Offalians
becoming
Olympians

SPECIAL Olympics Ireland has officially announced details of Team Ireland who will compete at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens and two Offaly athletes are part of the teams.

SPECIAL Olympics Ireland has officially announced details of Team Ireland who will compete at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens and two Offaly athletes are part of the teams.

Patrick Moore from Rhode and John Michael Gannon from Cloghan will proudly wear their country’s colours as they compete against athletes from across the world.

Patrick is an integral part of the Irish basketball team. He has a superb record at international level and his achievements include winning a gold medal in 1998 in Boston, a bronze medal in 2006 and a silver medal in 2010 at the Limerick Games. He is involved with Shoot-n-Stars and has been involved with Special Olympics for 14 years.

John Michael will take to the mat in gymnastics This is his first time to represent Ireland on the international stage. He competed in the Belfast Games and Limerick Games and won gold in Limerick. He has been involved with Special Olympics for nine years.

A total of 126 athletes and 49 coaches will represent Ireland at the Games, which are the highest level of sporting competition for Special Olympics athletes in the world. The Games will take place from June 25 – July 4 in Athens, Greece.

Team Ireland will join 7,500 Special Olympics athletes from 185 nations for the Games which promise to be one of the sporting highlights of this year. Team Ireland will compete in 12 sports: Aquatics, athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking and table tennis.

The Irish team will also be supported by 220 volunteers from Ireland who will volunteer at the Games as well as hundreds of family members and supporters who will cheer them on as they compete in the historical home of the first modern-day Olympic Games.

The launch, which was hosted by RTÉ’s Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh and Panos Zambetakis of TV3’s Apprentice, was attended by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD, members of Special Olympics Ireland’s Council of Patrons including Denis O’ Brien and Mary Davis, Matt English CEO Special Olympics Ireland as well as The Greek Ambassador to Ireland Her Excellency Constantina Zagorianou-Prifti.

Speaking at the launch Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar TD remarked, “Congratulations to you all for being members of Team Ireland and I wish all of our athletes, volunteers, coaches and supporters a wonderful Games in Athens and to thoroughly enjoy what I hope will be a wonderful experience.”

To celebrate Team Ireland’ s participation at the Games, eircom, premier sponsors of Special Olympics Ireland for the past 26 years, has created a new online campaign to allow people to leave personal messages of support for the Team Ireland athletes. The special application is housed on the Special Olympics Ireland’s facebook page and will be promoted through an online advertising campaign.

When each message of support is submitted the sender will receive a personalised video message from a Team Ireland athlete. This message can be shared with friends, so that they too can send a message of support. You can leave your message of support at www.facebook.com/specialolympicsireland.