Limerick to host Special Olympics Ireland Games 2014

Four years after Limerick successfully hosted the Special Olympics Ireland Games, the event will return to Shannonside next summer, and 1,500 Special Olympics athletes from the four corners of Ireland will converge on Limerick to take part, all hoping to be among the 120 athletes chosen to represent Ireland at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in August 2015.

The Games will be supported by a team of 3,000 volunteers who will be recruited in a campaign led by Ireland rugby captain Paul O’Connell, while the athletes will be accompanied by 500 coaches and official delegates, as well as over 3,000 family members. The event will take place over four days from June 12th to 15th, and will kick off on Thursday 12th June when the athletes take part in a grand opening cere-mony, followed by three full days of competition in 14 different sports.

At the launch of the Games, Special Olympics Chief Executive Matt English said “people and finance” were vital to guarantee the success of the prestigious sporting event, which will cost almost €2 million to stage. “Over the coming months we will be working hard to raise the €1.9 million required to cover the costs of these Games,” said Mr English. “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.” He added that 11,000 athletes are training every week out of 400 clubs for the Ireland Games, and competition will be keen to see who qualifies for the World Games in Los Angeles.

Venues for the Games include University of Limerick Arena, Bally-kisteen Golf Club, Delta Sports Dome, Murroe Pitch ‘n’ Putt, Ennis Leisure World, Mary Immaculate College and Clonshire Equestrian Centre.      

At the announcement in the University Concert Hall, guests were enter-tained by Music Generation and Ceol na Mara music-ians before Special Olympics athletes from all regions in Ireland took part in a parade, followed by the Flame of Hope which was carried into the ceremony by Assistant Garda Commissioner, John Twomey and PSNI Con-stable Steve Douglas.

Co-host David Wallace 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 – a call I’m sure will be answered once again by everyone here in Limerick.”