IN what will be one of the largest sporting events to take place in Ireland next year, 1,500 athletes will travel to Limerick for the 2014 Special Olympics Ireland Games.
The Games which were launched at the University of Limerick today, will take place over four days from Thursday, June 12 to Sunday, June 15.
The athletes will be accompanied by 500 coaches and official delegates as well as a contingent of over 3,000 family members.
The Games will be supported by a team of 3,000 volunteers who will be recruited from Limerick city, county and beyond over the coming months.
Limerick’s Will Leahy who was MC at the launch, said Special Olympics Ireland, which offers year-round sports training to people with an intellectual disability, will be counting on the support of everyone in Limerick to make the 2014 Games a success.
“We’re all here to mark something very special today – the Special Olympics Ireland Games coming back to Limerick in June 2014. They were last here in 2010, and we all remember how the people and businesses of Limerick came together to support the Games then. It was an amazing time and had such an impact on Special Olympics Ireland that it wasn’t too hard to twist their arms into coming back. But, like in 2010, they will need each and everyone here to get on board.”
Former Irish and Munster Rugby star, David Wallace, who was co-host of today’s event, said local support would be essential to making the Games a success. “The 2014 Special Olympics Ireland Games will showcase the talents and skills of 1,500 Special Olympics athletes. Every one of these athletes will have worked extremely hard at club and regional level to reach these prestigious Games. It is now up to each and every one of us to show them the support they deserve. I call on all businesses in Limerick and the Munster region to get behind these Games and support these fantastic athletes in every way they can.”
Matt English, CEO Special Olympics Ireland said everyone connected to Special Olympics Ireland is “immensely excited” to be returning to Limerick for the 2014 Games.
“The success of the 2010 Games left a lasting impression on everyone and I am confident that the coming Games will be as enjoyable and positive an experience for everyone involved. The two critical areas to guarantee success are people and finance. Over the coming months we will be working hard to raise the €1.9m required to cover the costs of these Games. With the help of 3,000 volunteers and businesses from the greater Limerick area we are determined to ensure that the Special Olympics Ireland 2014 Limerick Games will be a fantastic success and talked about for many years to come.”
Special Olympics competitions in each of the sports have been taking place over the past number of months at regional level, and athletes from each of the five regions have now qualified to compete at Ireland level. For the next seven months these athletes will be busy training in their local clubs, supported by their volunteer coaches.