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18/03/2017 19:21 RssIcon

The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games is officially underway after tonight's Opening Ceremony in Schladming, Austria. 

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins led the tributes to Team Ireland in an official letter where he said: "Being chosen to represent your country on the international stage is a great honour indeed. It is a tribute, not only to your great talent as athletes, but also to your dedication, hard work and perseverance. Those are qualities which make you inspirational role models and admirable Ambassadors for Ireland.

I wish you every success in the World Winter Games, and thank you for all you do to enhance Ireland’s reputation for sport across the world."

Team Ireland reunited as one squad once more as all 26 athletes arrived in Schladming for the event featuring a Parade of Athletes and a performance from international recording artist Jason Mraz. The team were in high spirits prior to the event. 

Speaking from the red carpet of the Opening Ceremony Reception, Special Olympics International CEO Mary Davis said: "We’re all set for the competition and of course tonight is a very
exciting night. What a proud moment it is for the athletes to come here as champions who will return back to their various different nations as heroes."  

Ireland were greeted with a warm welcome to the Planai Stadium following the special attention they received during the St. Patrick's Day celebrations

The McConville clan attended the ceremony to support young Caolan, his fellow skiers and both of the floorball squads. 


Earlier in the day, the skiers had another opportunity to train on the slopes of the 1850m Hochwurzen where both the novice and intermediate skiing competitions will take place. 

Team Ireland’s Floorball Team 2 made a spirited start to today’s divisioning in a 1-0 defeat to Bharat. Captain Thomas Caulfield tested the opposing goalkeeper on a number of occasions during a frantic finish to the first of the day’s games. Patrick Tunstead’s opener inspired the team to a 2-0 victory over Uruguay in their second game.

Floorball Team 1 continued Friday’s good form with a one-nil victory over Austria. In a tense affair, goalkeepers Roy Saville and James Upton were pivotal in keeping the locals scoreless. The team’s subsequent fixture against Switzerland resulted in a three-all draw, both sides providing plenty of entertainment for the assembled fans.

With divisioning now complete, both floorball teams will begin the Round Robin stage of the competition on Sunday. 

Divisioning Results March 18th:

Team 1:
Ireland 1-0 Austria 4
Ireland 3-3 Switzerland

Team 2:
Ireland 0-1 Bharat
Ireland 2-0 Uruguay

ESPN Highlights of Team Ireland's involvement in the Special Olympics World Winter Games Opening Ceremony will be available on our Facebook page

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