Special Olympic Ireland Games 2018
Pictured: Team Ulster athletes gathered at Belfast Central train station. The final countdown is on for the Special Olympics Ireland Games in Dublin, as 273 local Ulster athletes prepare to compete on a national stage this weekend. Local athletes are travelling from across the Ulster region to Dublin today for the Special Olympics Ireland Games, ahead of the Opening Ceremony tonight. There were emotional scenes as friends, family and supporters cheered on over 100 local athletes from the Team Ulster delegation as they made their way onto the train at Central Station this morning. 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, Facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsUlster Pictures by Matt Mackey, Press Eye.

The final countdown is on for the Special Olympics Ireland Games, as 273 local Ulster athletes prepare to compete on a national stage this weekend.

Local athletes are travelling from across the Ulster region to Dublin today for the Special Olympics Ireland Games, ahead of the Opening Ceremony tonight. There were emotional scenes as friends, family and supporters cheered on over 100 local athletes from the Team Ulster delegation as they made their way onto the train at Central Station this morning.

Tonight (Thursday 14th June), President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins will perform the official opening of the 2018 Special Olympics Ireland Games. The Opening Ceremony will kick off three full days of competition in what is set to be one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events to take place in Ireland in 2018.

Thousands are expected to attend to welcome Special Olympics athletes, coaches and volunteers from across Ireland, at the glittering event ceremony at Tallaght Stadium.

Team Ulster athletes, Margaret Hazley, 67 from Co. Armagh (swimming) and Joe O’Hanlon, 28 from Letterkenny, Co. Donegal (basketball) will be amongst the athletes that will lead a procession of torches and flags into the stadium to open the Games.

The Opening Ceremony will feature exciting performances from well-known Irish acts such as Irish Folk Duo, Hudson Taylor and pop singer, Jake Carter. Ireland’s Got Talent finalists, Xquisite Dance Group will also feature in an energetic performance and leading Irish DJ and record producer, John Gibbons, is set to raise the roof with a Decades Disco, celebrating 40 years of Special Olympics in Ireland.

The Ireland Games run from 14-17 June in Dublin. 1,600 Special Olympics athletes from across Ireland will participate in 13 sports and Motor Activities Training. The athletes will be supported by 600 coaches and official delegates and 2,500 volunteers.

The Games are set to be 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.

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, Facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsUlster

For further information about Special Olympics Ulster and the Special Olympics Ireland programme, visit www.specialolympics.ie  

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