73 Team Ireland athletes began their journey to the 2023 Special Olympics World Games. Excitement was in the air as they were welcomed to Dublin Airport by Aer Lingus Ground Operations, Cabin Crew and Flight Operations teams ahead of boarding Aer Lingus flight EI 692 bound for Dusseldorf, carrying with them dreams of success and the pride of the nation.
Team Ireland are traveling in fine style, which commenced with a warm send-off at Dublin Airport involving supporters, family and friends, and Aer Lingus staff members. For some athletes, this is their first time away from home, so the experience will be filled with equal parts excitement, nerves, and anticipation.
The journey continues the extensive partnership between Special Olympics Ireland and Aer Lingus which began with the ground-breaking 2003 World Games in Ireland, which was the first World Games to be held outside of North America.
The athletes commence their German adventure with a stay in the host town of Bielefeld in the North-Rhine Westphalia region from 12 to 15 June. After four days of training and cultural engagement, they will travel to Berlin where the games will commence with the Opening Ceremony in the Olympiastadion on 17 June. Team Ireland will compete in 12 sports; athletics, basketball, badminton, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, table tennis, and swimming.
Taking place between 17-25 June, the Games will be the largest sporting and humanitarian event in the world this year. Supported by a volunteer management and coaching team of 36, the 73 Team Ireland athletes will join 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 190 countries at the Games. With family and friends making the trip to support their loved ones as well as representatives from Special Olympics Ireland, Team Ireland will be supported and cheered for all the way. Local Irish support including from the Irish Embassy in Berlin will be present. A team of volunteers from Ireland will also be on the ground helping to keep the Games running smoothly, continuing a proud tradition of the Irish volunteer contingent making an outsized contribution to World Games.
Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics Ireland, Matt English said: “We are delighted to wish Team Ireland well as the 73 athletes and 36 coaches and management team members travel to Germany for the World Games in Berlin. Participating in the Games is an achievement in itself and I know that each individual will make their loved ones, clubs, and their country very proud. The Games are an important reminder of how sport can be life-changing and community-building, and we want to thank our supporters and partners for helping to make Team Ireland’s dream a reality. We want to thank our impressive volunteer contingent for supporting our athletes. We particularly thank Aer Lingus, who have made Team Ireland’s journey so much easier. Aer Lingus’ sponsorship over the past 20 years is invaluable to Special Olympics and we look forward to more great adventures in the future.”
Lynne Embleton, Aer Lingus Chief Executive Officer wished the team well, saying; “There is great sense of excitement at the Aer Lingus check-in to welcome the Special Olympics Team Ireland as they depart today for the Special Olympics World Games. Their work, their effort and their determination has been remarkable and continues to inspire all of us at Aer Lingus. Our partnership with Special Olympics Ireland spans 20 years, it’s a partnership that means a lot to our organisation and to our people, who are excited to fly the athletes to Dusseldorf today to prepare for the Games, especially our Ground Operations, Cabin Crew and Flight Operations teams.’’
We know that Team Ireland will do us all proud as they make history at the Berlin World Games. Special Olympics Ireland look forward to keeping you updated on the Team’s performance. All the latest news will be shared via our social media accounts: Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.
PHOTOS – ROBBIE REYNOLDS