WITH just a week to go to one of the biggest sporting events to take place in Limerick this year, Special Olympics Ireland are urging people to come out and support a parade of athletes which takes place in the city ahead of the official opening of the 2014 Games.
In the region of 1,500 athletes are to parade along O’Connell Street as part of the official opening ceremony which is proudly supported by Limerick City of Culture
“We are now very much on the home stretch and I would take this opportunity to invite the people of Limerick, and further afield, to come out and support all of the athletes taking part in the Games during the street parade. It will be a fantastic occasion and the perfect platform from which to launch the Games,” said Matt English, CEO with Special Olympics Ireland.
As part of the build-up to the Games, 1,500 athletes from across Ireland will take part in a street parade along O’Connell next Thursday, June 12. The parade will begin below the Shannon Street junction with O’Connell Street at 6pm. It will progress along O’Connell Street, before turning left onto Mallow Street and then into the People’s Park.
A fully ticketed opening ceremony in the People’s Park, presented by 2FM’s Will Leahy and featuring traditional music act Kila among others, will start at 6.30pm.
In a first for Special Olympics, athletes from each of the five delegations and the coaches that make up the 2014 Games competitors will take part in the parade. The parade is fully open to spectators. The parade will be accompanied by the Special Olympics torch run team, marching bands and street performers.
In a gesture to all of those attending the parade, local carpark operator and official 2014 Games parking partner, Q-Park, has announced that it will open up its Harvey Quay and Henry Street facility at a reduced rate of €2 for the evening from 4pm to midnight.
The parade of athletes will arrive to the People’s Park at 6.30pm for the fully ticketed opening ceremony which is proudly supported by Limerick City of Culture.
“We are delighted in this year of culture that Special Olympics chose to return to Limerick for this important sporting event. The parade of athletes is a unique way to incorporate all of Limerick in this joyous event,” said Mike Fitzpatrick, director of Limerick City of Culture.
Organisers of the People’s Park event have stressed that admission to the People’s Park will be strictly by ticket only.
The opening ceremony of the Special Olympics Ireland Games 2014 officially marks the start of the Games which are sponsored by Eircom and take place from June 13 to June 15 in 13 sports in venues throughout Limerick.
As well as being the main residential centre, the University of Limerick will host the athletics, aquatics, basketball, football, gymnastics, kayaking competitions and the non-competitive motor activities training programme.
Across the city, the Tailteann Sports Centre, Mary Immaculate College, will host the badminton, and table tennis while the Delta Sports Dome will host bocce. The equestrian competition will take place in Clonshire Equestrian Centre.
Ennis Leisure World will host the tenpin bowling while Murroe Pitch and Putt and Ballykisteen Golf Club in Tipperary will host the pitch and putt and golf competitions respectively. Meanwhile, Dell and Special Olympics Ireland have teamed up to design a free smartphone app to support the Games. Matt English joined the Dell team this Tuesday to unveil the details of the app. Also in attendance were athlete and Face of the Limerick Games Christine Delaney and Munster and Ireland rugby legend David Wallace.
Speaking on behalf of her fellow athletes, Christine Delaney from Limerick, said that it was “a huge honour to have the opportunity to represent her club, county and Munster”.