Belfast Telegraph

Ulster athletes are gearing up for Special Olympics

By Frank Brownlow

Twelve Ulster athletes have been selected to represent Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, the biggest global sports event this year.

Team Ireland's 88 competitors will join 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 177 countries for the Games which take place from July 23 to August 2.

Ireland will compete in 12 sports - aquatics, athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking and table tennis.

The World Games will be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics.

The Opening Ceremony, on July 25 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators.

Honorary Chairs of the Games are President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

A total of €440,000 is required to cover the cost of sending Team Ireland to the World Games.

Special Olympics Ireland Chief Executive Matt English said: "We still have a way to go yet to reach our target of €440,000 and I really would encourage as many companies as possible to get behind Team Ireland."

The team's backers include Sport Northern Ireland, while Ulster-born Hollywood actor Liam Neeson has lent his support by doing the voiceover for the team's promotional video.

Irish Sports Council Chief Executive John Treacy, former Olympic Marathon silver medalist, said: "I am delighted we have been able to increase investment in the lead-up to the Games."

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