The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon has shown her support to local athletes preparing for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles this summer (LA2015).
At a reception with local Special Olympics Ulster athletes, the Lord Mayor paid tribute to local Special Olympics Ulster athletes selected for the Games and encouraged businesses across Northern Ireland to get behind the Special Olympics LA2015 Support an Athlete campaign.
Twelve local Ulster athletes are set to compete on the world stage, having been selected to compete for Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Summer Games Los Angeles 2015.
The athletes come from right across Northern Ireland, including Belfast, Ballynahinch, Coleraine, Lisburn, Lurgan, Strabane and Scarva, and are amongst 88 Team Ireland athletes that will travel to Los Angeles to compete at the World Games this summer.
To cover the cost of sending Team Ireland to the Games, Special Ireland Olympics needs to raise £343,848 (€440,000). The organisation will be reaching out to businesses and companies over the coming weeks and months to seek pledges of support for its Support an Athlete programme.
The cost incurred by Special Olympics Ireland to prepare and send each athlete to Los Angeles is £3,908 (€5,000). This covers all aspects for each athlete due to represent Ireland at the World Games including sports training, travel cost, uniforms, medical and equipment.
Special Olympics Ulster athletes and Team Ireland squad members for LA2015, Carole Catling, 37, a table tennis athlete from Abbots Cross Special Olympics Club in Newtownabbey and Kirsty Devlin, 20, a rhythmic gymnast from Salto Special Olympics Club in Belfast were present at a recent reception with the Lord Mayor.
Speaking at the event, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon said: “Special Olympics athletes, including Carol and Kirsty are a great source of inspiration and I am proud to support our local athletes as they prepare to compete on a World Stage this summer.
“I would encourage others to get behind the Special Olympics Ireland Support an Athlete programme in the run up to LA2015.”
Shaun Cassidy, regional director, Special Olympics Ulster said: “2015 is shaping up to be a huge year for our athletes. It’s a tremendous achievement for our local athletes to be selected to represent Team Ireland at LA 2015.
“Over the coming months we will be working hard to generate the necessary funds to send our Team Ireland athletes to the World Games. Special Olympics Ulster is calling on businesses across Northern Ireland to be generous in their support of our local athletes as they prepare for this important milestone in their Special Olympics journey. The support and generosity of businesses and corporate donors will ensure that Team Ireland athletes enjoy their momentous World Games experience to the full.”
With just six months until the World Games kick off, the Ulster delegation are now beginning their preparations and training for the Games, which take place in L.A between 25 July – 2 August 2015.
This summer, the iconic city of Los Angeles will welcome 7,000 athletes from 177 countries to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Supported by over 30,000 volunteers – including 200 from across the island of Ireland – the Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.
The Special Olympics movement is committed to creating a world where every person, regardless of their ability or disability, is accepted, welcomed and valued – a world of inclusion and mutual respect, without bias or prejudice. Los Angeles is a city of movie stars and all-stars. But in 2015, Special Olympics athletes will be the true stars.
The twelve Special Olympics Ulster athletes selected for Team Ireland are:
- Christopher Kane, Lisburn, Co. Antrim
- Carole Catling, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim
- Kirsty Devlin, Belfast, Co. Antrim
- Ursula McDonnell, Belfast, Co. Antrim
- Sarah Jane Johnston, Lurgan, Co. Armagh
- Jill Connery, Scarva, Co. Armagh
- Déarbháil Savage, Mowhan, Co. Armagh
- Sean Campbell, Coleraine, Derry/Londonderry
- Oliver Doherty, Buncrana, Co. Donegal
- Patrick Quinlivan, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
- Peter Fitzpatrick, Ballynahinch, Co. Down
- Nuala Browne, Strabane, Co. Tyrone
For further information on Team Ireland’s preparations for LA 2015 and to find out more about the Support an Athlete programme, visit www.specialolympics.ie/supportanathlete or call John Kivlahan on 028 9023 9023.