Leading Irish figures paid tribute to Michelle Smith as a role model for the women of her country yesterday.
The President, Mary Robinson, the country's first woman head of state, hailed the swimmer as "a superb role model for all young sports people - and in particular for Irish women".
The Irish Prime Minister, John Bruton, called her achievement a "great victory".
"I share the sense of joy I am sure the whole country feels at Michelle's tremendous victory." The Foreign Minister, Dick Spring, a former rugby international, said: "I know Michelle Smith's exploits will inspire many young Irish people to dedicate themselves to sporting excellence as she has done with such unique distinction."
Smith's parents were in Atlanta but other family members and friends watched her win one of the first gold medals of the Games on television in a pub on the outskirts of Dublin.
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