Leitrim athlete to compete at Special Olympic Games

Fiona Heavey

Reporter:

Fiona Heavey

Special Olympics seeks volunteers on May 5

With just 22 days until the Special Olympic Games Ireland take place the Connaught team got together for a regional launch.

Special Olympics Ireland recently invited 13 year old Constance Smyth from Leitrim, to the impressive indoor athletics arena in the Athlone Institute of technology, along with her 226  fellow athletes from Mayo, Galway, Longford, Roscommon, Sligo, Westmeath.

Inspirational Connaught sports stars were in attendance. Westmeath footballer Dessie Dolan was accompanied by Leitrim footballer Maeve Quinn as honoured guests at the launch event. 

The excitement was palpable throughout the state of the art facility as the athletes were lead in, county by county, by a piper leading the athletes to their seats.

The MC for the night, was Galway Bay FM radio host John Mulligan, who spoke of the profound impact Special Olympics has had on him and the athletes he has become involved with, throughout the year. Galway senior hurling manager Micheál Donoghue spoke of the effect of sport, through the deafening cheers from the 227 athletes in attendance of the launch. “Sport,” he explained, “has always been a huge part of my life… allowing you to be become completely immersed in the moment”. 

The athletes, coaches, family members and guests were treated to music by the trad band Celtic Cru, after the speeches concluded.

Connaught Regional Director Myra Merrick explained the importance of sport in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.

“Special Olympics Ireland is first and foremost a sports organization for people with an intellectual disability, but it provides athletes with far more than the physical benefits of sport. Every day we see athletes demonstrate courage, experience joy and share long lasting friendships.”

1,600 inspiring athletes will storm the Dublin venues to participate in 13 sports this summer. Launches similar to this one is Munster, will take place across the country. They will demonstrate the energy and excitement building as the countdown accelerates towards the event.

Special Olympics Ireland would like to extend an invitation to the people of Ireland, to come visit the Games in June. The largest sporting event in Ireland in 2018 will run from Thursday 14th until Sunday 17th of June. This family friendly event is completely free and take place in venues all across Dublin. For more information please visit www.irelandgames.ie.