Featured Event: Special Olympics Ireland Games 2014
“LET ME WIN BUT IF I CANNOT WIN LET ME BE BRAVE IN THE ATTEMPT”
Location: Limerick, Clare & Tipperary.
DATE: Thursday 12th – Sunday 15th June 2014
PARTICIPATING TEAMS/ATHLETES/SPORTS: 1,500 athletes took part in 14 olympic type sports over the entire weekend. There was a wide variety of sports across the three counties, with the majority taking place in University of Limerick. UL facilities are amongst the best in the country acted as a great centre for the occasion.
The sports included were:
- Motor Activities Training Programme
- Pitch and Putt
- Table Tennis
About Special Olympics Ireland:
Special Olympics Ireland is a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, but it provides athletes with far more than the physical benefits of sport. Special Olympics changes lives. Through sport, athletes develop both physically and emotionally, they make new friends and realise their dreams. Special Olympics Ireland enables our athletes to achieve and win not only in sport but in life too.
Special Olympics Ireland currently has almost 10,000 registered athletes participating in 15 sports in 385 Clubs throughout the island of Ireland. These athletes are supported by their families and a team of 25,000 volunteers who give of their time to help out at sporting and fundraising events.
The mission of Special Olympics Ireland is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with an intellectual disability, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendships with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”
The vision is to build the programme offered by Special Olympics Ireland so that every person with a learning disability has the opportunity, in their local community, to participate in high quality sport and development activities that bring life-changing experiences of increased skills, self-confidence and joy.
Venue – With Limerick as the centre, the Games took place within a big geographical area, encompassing three counties. The centre of the Special Olympics was in University of Limerick (UL) in Castletroy. UL was the venue for Aquatics, Athletics, Basketball, Football, Gymnastics, Kayaking and Motor Activities Training Programme. Those taking part in Golf did so at the Ballykisteen Golf Club in County Tipperary, while Equestrian took place in the Clonshire Equestrian Centre in Adare County Limerick. Mary Immaculate College hosted the Table Tennis as well as the Badminton while Bocce was took place in the Delta Sports Dome, again in Limerick. Pitch n’ Putt took place at Murroe Pitch and Putt. Finally the third County – Clare – hosted Bowling at the Ennis Leisure World.
Event in Numbers – The Special Olympics Games in Limerick saw a magnificent level of participation. Five Delegations from Eastern, Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster regions participated comprising 1,500 athletes, xxx coaches with 3,000 volunteers giving of their time to host the Games. Over 7,000 people attended the Opening Ceremony, which began with a parade of the Delegations through Limerick City culminating in the People’s Park with a host of entertainers, including signer Paddy Casey. There was a real carnival atmosphere in Limerick with the people of Limerick coming out in huge numbers to cheer on the teams
What next for Special Olympics in 2014?
As a result of these games, 100 Athletes will be chosen to represent Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Summer games in Los Angeles next year.
On a continual basis Special Olympics offers weekly training across multiple sports as well as regular competitions for those who want to compete. Competition is not for everyone, so our focus is on participation and helping every athlete achieve their personal best.
How the event went:
The Special Olympics in Limerick was a major success. With 1,500 athletes taking part in 14 sports the variety of sport was one of the major highlights.
Special Olympics Ireland CEO Matt English said: “We need to make sure that every new athlete that joins the programme their lives will be changed and they will get to experience hopefully a life-long involvement, because Special Olympics have athletes here today the youngest was 8 and the oldest was 77. It is life-long.”
English continued: “We want to make sure that after this we keep Special Olympics strong because there are 1,500 athletes participated in the games here but there are 10,000 athletes that are training week in week out and I think it’s important that people realise that we need never to get complacent about Special Olympics.”
The games smooth running was hugely attributed to the 3,000 plus strong volunteer force and whose help was invaluable.
English also praised the 120 health professionals, including opticians, dentist, podiatrists and dieticians, who were on hand to give out expert free advice to athletes, who availed of full eye tests and were given prescriptions for new glasses and goggles free of charge.