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Special Olympics athletes celebrated ahead of Dublin games

11 Jun 2018
The newly-appointed Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, attended a special celebratory event at the Ulster Museum on Friday (8 June), as the final countdown to the Special Olympics Ireland Games in Dublin begins.

With less than a week to go until the Games, the special evening of celebration, featured a striking parade of the 273-strong delegation of local Team Ulster athletes. Members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for Special Olympics led the athletes into the atrium of the Ulster Museum with the torch, which will light the official Flame of Hope at the Opening Ceremony of the Games on Thursday (14June).

Special guests, including the Lord Mayor, Ballymena runner James Hamilton and former British and Irish Lion Trevor Ringland also joined in the celebrations, to wish the team well in their final preparations for the Games.

Commenting after the event, the Lord Mayor said: “Regardless of what medals may be won at the event itself, the achievements of these athletes is already remarkable. They are proof that no matter what challenges you are faced with, there’s nothing that determination, discipline and teamwork can’t overcome.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the volunteers and coaches without whom the Special Olympics wouldn’t be possible. I’m delighted to be here this evening to offer my support, and I wish the team well as they head off to compete in the Games in Dublin.”

The strong delegation of Team Ulster athletes will be amongst 1,600 Special Olympics athletes from across Ireland that will participate in the Special Olympics Ireland Games 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.

The Special Olympics Ireland 2018 Opening Ceremony will take place in Dublin on the evening of Thursday 14th June. Three full days competition will follow, with a closing ceremony on Sunday 17th June tying off proceedings, before athletes travel back to their hometowns and cities across the Ulster region.

You 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.
The Lord Mayor, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, with local Special Olympics athletes The Lord Mayor, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, with local Special Olympics athletes