FOUR athletes from Tyrone are in training for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.
Shannon Nixon (21) from Coalisland will represent Team Ireland in athletics; Richard Currie (23) from Dungannon, who will compete in bocce; Siobhan Dunne (27) from Strabane who will compete as part of the Team Ireland ladies basketball team and Lee Mitchell (21) from Omagh will be vying for a medal finish in equestrian events. Last week, the final preparations began in earnest for the local Special Olympics athletes, with the official launch of Team Ireland for the 2019 World Games.
Speaking at the launch, Team Ireland bocce athlete, Richard Currie spoke of his excitement ahead of the Abu Dhabi games.
“My goal is not only to do myself and Special Olympics proud, but I also want to bring the fun back into the sport of Bocce,” he said. “I have been working with younger athletes in my club, teaching them that sport, and especially Bocce, is fun. I want to be the Usain Bolt of Bocce.”
The Tyrone athletes will be joined by fellow Team Ireland athletes from right across the island of Ireland, who will compete in a total of 12 sports: athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, swimming and table tennis.
Emma McMenamin who is head of delegation for Team Ireland said, “These athletes are extremely focused and determined and like any athlete facing into a major competition, they are putting 100 per-cent into their training. It was great to see how excited the athletes are to be part of this huge event.
“To represent Team Ireland and compete on the world stage in Abu Dhabi is a big honour and one these Special Olympics athletes are not taking lightly.”
Shaun Cassidy, regional director, Special Olympics Ulster added, “With just over 50 days to go, the excitement is mounting, Companies large and small across Northern Ireland can show their support for our Team Ireland athletes by visiting www.specialolympics.ie and getting involved in our Support an Athlete campaign.”