Athletes from across Ulster have been competing in the first day of sporting action at the 2018 Special Olympics Ireland Games, which got under way today in Dublin (Friday 15th June). 

A total of 1600 athletes from across Ireland – including 273 from Ulster –  are competing in 13 sports and Motor Activities Training, including Athletics, Aquatics, Badminton, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Equestrian, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Kayaking, Pitch & Putt and Table Tennis at the Games, which conclude on Sunday 17th June. 

Famous faces including rugby legends Keith Woods and David Wallace, pop star, Jake Carter, presenter, Glenda Gilson and weatherman Martin King were amongst the thousands of spectators that turned out to cheer on Special Olympics athletes from right across the island today.

Commenting at the Games, Keith Woods said: “It’s been an amazing day at the Games today; it’s been a total emotional roller coaster, so if you haven’t had a chance to visit the Games yet, get on down here, it’s incredible.”

Finals in the first round of competitions took place late today in Athletics, Aquatics, Badminton, Equestrian and Table Tennis. Preliminary divisioning competitions continue in Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Kayaking, Pitch & Putt, Swimming, Open Water Swimming with finals set to take place on Saturday and Sunday.*

Commenting after the first day of competition, Shaun Cassidy, regional director, Special Olympics Ulster said: “The Ireland Games is one of the biggest sporting events of the year and we are proud to have such a strong delegation of Team Ulster athletes in attendance.

“The Games provide a real opportunity for hundreds of local athletes with intellectual disabilities to compete on a national stage and we wish the whole team well.” 

The Games are one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events to take place in Ireland in 2018 and selected athletes from these Games will go on to represent Team Ireland at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.

The 2018 Games, which run until Sunday 17th June, are supported by 600 coaches and official delegates and 2,500 volunteers, with thousands of spectators expected to turn out to cheer on the athletes in venues across the city.

During the weekend of the Games, various cultural and entertainment items will be organised, giving athletes, families, volunteers and the public an opportunity to experience a true Olympics-style event.  The athletes will also be able to avail of a Healthy Athlete Screening Programme and participate in other health related activities throughout the weekend.

Special Olympics Ireland is a year-round sports training and competition programme for people with an intellectual disability. The benefits of participation in Special Olympics extend beyond the physical benefits of sport; it’s about team spirit, friendships and fun; it’s about a feeling of belonging and a sense of being part of a community. Special Olympics changes lives in so many different ways, enabling people with an intellectual disability to achieve and win not only in sport but in life too.

The public can keep up to date with the news on the Special Olympics Ireland Dublin Games 2018 and Team Ulster’s progress on Twitter, tweet @SO_Ulster  and @SOIreland using the hashtag, #IrelandGames. Further updates will be posted on the Special Olympics Ulster Facebook page,

For further information about Special Olympics Ulster and the Special Olympics Ireland programme, visit  


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