Athletes head to Irish Special Olympics

Published Thursday, 12 June 2014
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Over 200 local athletes got a special send-off before heading to Limerick for the Special Olympics Ireland Games on Thursday morning.

Athletes head to Irish Special Olympics
Ulster athletes begin their journey to Limerick for the Games. (© Presseye)

The delegation of 241 Ulster athletes are heading to the city for the opening ceremony later on Thursday evening.

At Belfast Central Station, the athletes were joined by Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon, Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and representatives of the Law Enforcement Torch Run including Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr.

Over 1,500 athletes from across the island are taking part in this year's Games from Thursday 12 June to Sunday 15 June.

Over the course of the four days, athletes will compete in 14 sports, including athletics, aquatics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, pitch & putt and table tennis.

Athletes will be supported by 3000 volunteers and 500 coaches, with thousands of spectators expected to turn out to cheer on the athletes in venues at the University of Limerick and other official Games venues across the city.

Regional director of Special Olympics Ulster, Shaun Cassidy commented: "Special Olympics Ulster supports over 2,000 athletes in Ulster, with year-round activities in 92 clubs across the region.

"The Limerick Games are set to be one of the biggest sporting events of the year and we are proud to have such a strong delegation of Team Ulster athletes going to the Games this June.

"The Special Olympics Ireland Games in Limerick will provide a real opportunity for hundreds of local athletes with intellectual disabilities to compete on a national stage.

"For many of our athletes, this will be their first time competing at this level of competition, having trained and worked hard for many years. To reach this level is a real achievement and we wish the whole team well as they prepare for the Games."

Assistant Chief Constable, Will Kerr added: "Over 85,000 police officers from 48 countries across the world contribute to Law Enforcement Torch Run efforts annually as Guardians of the Flame, ensuring the delivery of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to the opening ceremonies of local Special Olympics competitions.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland, with our colleagues in An Garda Síochána are proud to showcase these athletes, with representatives from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland helping to send the Flame of Hope to the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics Ireland Limerick Games 2014."

The Games open with a street parade on O'Connell Street followed by an event in the People's Park.

Three full days competition will follow, with a closing ceremony on Sunday tying off proceedings, before athletes travel back to their home towns and cities across the Ulster region.

© UTV News
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