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  • Southside

Southside athletes join team Ireland at Special Olympics

Monday, 18th March, 2019 6:00pm
Southside athletes join team Ireland at Special Olympics

Team Ireland is led out by Minsiter for Tourism, Transport and Sport Shane Ross, WWE wrestler Finn Balor and Special Olympics Chairman to the Board, Brendan Whelan, during the Special Olympic World Games 2019 Opening Ceremony.

Southside athletes join team Ireland at Special Olympics

Team Ireland is led out by Minsiter for Tourism, Transport and Sport Shane Ross, WWE wrestler Finn Balor and Special Olympics Chairman to the Board, Brendan Whelan, during the Special Olympic World Games 2019 Opening Ceremony.

SEVERAL Southside athletes took their place among 91 others on Team Ireland who are partaking in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.

Team Ireland made their first appearance at the Opening Ceremony’s official athletes’ parade, which was led out by Irish representatives including Brendan Whelan, Chairman for Special Olympics Ireland and Shane Ross, Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

A team of 39 management volunteers also travelled with the athletes. The Games officially launched last Thursday at the star-studded ceremony at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium, the largest stadium in the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the largest sporting and humanitarian event in the world this year. Team Ireland joined 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 170 countries at the Games. 

The Southside athletes who hav ebeen representing Team Ireland include those on the men’s basketball team such as Oisin Gilmartin (22) from Palmerstown, Jamie Ennis (21) from Clondalkin, Thomas Coyle (23), Geoffrey Curley (30) and Sean Winder (27) who all from Tallaght.

In gymnastics, Dublin athletes, Eimear Gannon (22) from Templeogue and Rachel Murray (22) from Rathfarnham competed in rhythmic gymnastics, while Laura Rumball (22) from Dun Laoghaire competed in artistic gymnastics.

Golfers John Keating (26) from Templeogue, Mark Claffey (29) from Blackrock and Andrew Simington (30) from Dalkey joined playing partner, Phyl Kelleher (79) from Rathfarnham, as they took to the green.

In athletics, Alan Power from Knocklyon, who has just turned 50 competed in his first World Games, alongside Conor Meade (27) from Stillorgan.

Footballers Daniel Byrne (19) from Lucan, Patrick Furlong (19) from Ballyfermot and Omer Teko (25) from Walkinstown all competed as part of the Team Ireland 7- a side squad.

Sally Duffy (42) from Tallaght, Dublin 24 competed in Equestrian events while Fiodhna O'Leary (25) from Foxrock competed in Table Tennis. 

Michael Hardiman (29) from Tallaght, Dublin 24 will compete in Tenpin Bowling.

Speaking from Abu Dhabi, Minister Ross said: “I am so honoured to meet my local heroes, Thomas Coyle and Rachel Murray from the Dundrum Arch Club.

Thomas is representing us proudly in basketball as Rachel is in rhythmic gymnastics. I know that all of us in the local area are cheering Thomas, Rachel and all the other athletes on this week. Their passion, commitment and good cheer, inspire us all.

“On behalf of the Irish people I would like to extend my very best wishes to all of the athletes who are competing as part of Team Ireland here at the Special Olympics World Games.

“I want to applaud the hard work, training and commitment of the team and their coaches in preparing for these Games. Each and every member of the team has worked hard so that they can represent Ireland in Abu Dhabi.

“To represent your country is a wonderful achievement and all of the athletes along with their coaches and their families can be very proud of what they have achieved so far in getting to the Games. The whole country has been cheering on Team Ireland. I would like to congratulate Special Olympics Ireland and everyone who has supported the athletes in their preparations for these Games.

“It was wonderful to meet some of the Irish volunteers who have travelled to assist with the Games. The fact that we are the only country out of 170 to do so demonstrates the importance of our competitors as they inspire the nation with their efforts. “

The event saw several international celebrities making the trip to Abu Dhabi to show their support for Special Olympics athletes including global ambassador, Nicole Scherzinger and Avril Lavigne, who took to the stage with a performance of her song, ‘Fly’.

The ‘Flame of Hope’ also completed its final journey into the iconic Zayed Sports City stadium, lighting the cauldron to mark the official opening.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here