Day 1/12: World Winter Games Live Blog - March 14th 2017Mar14
Fond Farewells and High Hopes as Team Ireland Depart for Special Olympics World Winter Games
Team Ireland’s largest ever delegation for a Special Olympics World Winter Games has departed from Dublin Airport for the 2017 games in Austria. A 26-strong squad made up of six alpine skiers and two floorball squads took Air Lingus Flight EI660 to Vienna this morning amid emotional goodbyes from families and supporters.
Twelve support staff in coaching, medical, logistics and mentoring roles accompany the athletes including Team Ireland Head of Delegation Karen Coventry.
“This morning was the first time our athletes were together in their official Team Ireland kit and the excitement was just incredible,” she said.
“The athletes will soon refocus on competing to the best of their abilities in their chosen events, but this morning was just about celebrating them and giving family members and supporters a chance to wish them well.”
The squad will stay in the host town of Gallneukirchen for acclimatisation and cultural exchange ahead of Saturday’s Opening ceremony. The floorball squads depart for Graz on Thursday ahead of divisioning rounds against Russia and Croatia on St. Patrick’s Day while the alpine skiers decamp to Schladming in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s home state of Styria.
Schladming has twice hosted the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and will welcome all 2,700 participating athletes for Saturday’s Opening Ceremony featuring US recording artist Jason Mraz. The 2017 World Winter Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2017.
Special Olympics Ireland is raising funds to compete at the event through the Support An Athlete Campaign and with the help of the organisation’s commercial sponsors including eir, Gala Retail and Aer Lingus.
Commenting at the Team Ireland departure for the World Winter Games, Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh said:
“Aer Lingus’ partnership with Special Olympics Ireland began in 2003 when the Special Olympics World Games were held in Ireland for the first time. Since then we have been an extremely proud partner, transporting Team Ireland to European and World Games and this year are delighted to be sending a group of Aer Lingus staff as volunteers to the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Our crew are delighted to welcome Team Ireland on board their flight to Vienna today and we wish Team Ireland the best of luck from all their friends and supporters at Aer Lingus.”
To keep up to date with Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, follow Special Olympics Ireland on Twitter, @SOIreland and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsIreland and search the hashtags, #TeamIreland #Austria2017
TEAM IRELAND’S ALPINE SKIING TEAM
• Intermediate – Sean McCartan (Antrim), Lorraine Whelan (Wicklow)
• Novice – Caolan McConville (Armagh), Cyril Walker (Armagh), Niall Flynn (Dublin), Laoise Kenny (Dublin).
TEAM IRELAND’S FLOORBALL TEAMS:
• Team 1 – Joseph McCarthy (Cork), Brian McDonnell (Cork), Thomas O’Herlihy (Cork), Roy Saville (Cork), Lee Ryan Byrne (Dublin), Michael Minogue (Limerick), George Fitzgerald (Waterford), Clive Healy (Waterford), William McGrath (Waterford), James Upton (Waterford)
• Team 2 – James Healy (Cork), Richard Moran (Cork), Lorcan Byrne (Dublin), Thomas Caulfield (Dublin), Matthew Colgan (Dublin), Stephen Lee (Dublin), Anthony Murray (Dublin), Raymond McClearn (Galway), John Paul Shaw (Longford), Patrick Tunstead (Meath).