Team Ireland announced for 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games

Special Olympics Ireland today officially announced details of Team Ireland who will compete at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens. 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 25th June – 4th July 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: Aquaticsathletics,badminton, basketballboccebowlingequestrianfootballgolfgymnasticskayaking and table tennis.
Team Ireland 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 T.D., members of Special Olympics Ireland’s Council of Patrons including Denis O’ Brien and Mary DavisMatt English CEO Special Olympics Ireland as well as The Greek Ambassador to Ireland Her Excellency Constantina Zagorianou-Prifti.

Mark Whelan with Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Leo Varadkar


Speaking at the launch Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar T.D. said: Today marks my first official engagement as Minister for Sport and I am very pleased and proud that it is to attend a Special Olympics Ireland Event.  The Special Olympics movement occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of everyone in Ireland and on my first engagement, I note that we are marking some other special ‘firsts’ today.  The first time Ireland will compete in the kayaking competition at the World Games and the first time an open sea swim will be offered as part of the Games and our first athlete will to take part.  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”.

Mary Davis, Chairperson Special Olympics Ireland and Regional President Special Olympics Europe Eurasia said: “I am so proud of every one of our athletes who will be representing their country and communities at the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens.  Each of them have shown great motivation, discipline and tremendous skill in getting this far and it is worthy of real celebration.  They are all winners and it is a truly remarkable achievement for all our athletes, their coaches, their families and Special Olympics volunteers.  I know the entire country will be cheering on Team Ireland in June and I am really looking forward to being in Athens to enjoy and share the experience with our athletes and their families.  Today is a result of hard work, commitment and dedication and I congratulate all 126 athletes.”
John Treacy, CEO Irish Sports Council said “The support of NGBs officiating at Special Olympics Ireland events ensures the integrity of competition. It is very encouraging to see this standard recognised by the participation of 25 Irish officials at an international level”.
Danny O’ Connor, Board Member of Sport Northern Ireland said “Sport NI is delighted to once again be involved in assisting Special Olympics.  Sport NI wishes Team Ireland all the best in its attendance at the World Games in Athens and congratulate the hard work and dedication of the team members in earning their place on the team”.
To celebrate Team Ireland’ s participation at the Games, eircompremier sponsors of Special Olympics Ireland for the past 26 years, has created an exciting 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.
Carolan Lennon, Chief Commercial Officer, eircom said: “As part of our support for Special Olympics Ireland, we are particularly proud to be primary sponsor of Team Ireland. We were delighted to have the support of three of the team in making our new online campaign to allow the public post messages of support for the team.  I would like to wish every one of the 126 athletes the best of luck in Athens. You can leave your message of support at

Gary O'Brien, Portmarnock, Dublin & Edward Kennedy, Julianstown, Co. Meath

Northern Ireland Athletes


Jonathan Griffin holds the Flame of Hope with Garda Síochána Deputy Commissioner Nacie Rice & Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland PSNI

Special Olympics 2011


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