Natalya Coyle,Rebecca McAuley and Dean Rock at this week’s Ireland Games launch . Picture: Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile

THE new Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown will play host to the 2018 Special Olympics Ireland Games, it was confirmed this week.
The Games will take place over four days from Thursday, June 14 to Sunday, June 17. In what will be one of the largest sporting events to take place in Ireland next year, 1,600 Special Olympics athletes from throughoutIreland will travel to Dublin.
They will be accompanied by 600 coaches and official delegates and 3,000 family members and supporters. The Games will be supported by a team of 2,500 volunteers who will be recruited from Dublin and beyond over the coming months.
All-Ireland winner Dean Rock said that Special Olympics will be counting on the support of everyone to make the 2018 Games a success.
“We’re here to mark something very special – the Special Olympics Ireland Games coming back to Dublin in June 2018,” Rock said at the launch. “They were last here in 2002, a year before the World Games took place in Dublin in 2003. It was an amazing time and had such an impact on communities across Ireland. But, as in 2002 and 2003, Special Olympics needs each and every one of us to get on board.”
Olympic pentathlete Natalya Coyle, also an ambassador for Special Olympics, added that local support would be essential to making the Games a success.
“Each of these athletes will have worked extremely hard at club and regional level to reach these prestigious Games. It is now up to each and every one of us to show them the support they deserve.
“I call on everyone to get behind these Games by volunteering so that we can give these inspiring athletes the professional and comprehensive Games experience they deserve. Without volunteers these Games cannot happen.”
Athlete Face of the Games Rebecca McAuley cannot wait for it to come around: “Being part of Special Olympics means so much to me. My training has given me skills I can use into everyday life. I can’t wait to represent my region at these Games, so please help support us.”
The 1,600 athletes will compete in 13 sports in venues throughout Dublin with one venue in Meath and Kildare.
The NSC will host six sports; badminton, basketball, bocce, football, gymnastics, swimming and the non-competitive motor activities training programme.
Across the city, Morton Stadium will host the athletics competitions, Cherry Orchard Equestrian Centre will host equestrian, the Irish Wheelchair Association facility in Clontarf will host table tennis, St Margaret’s Golf Course the golf, the Leisureplex in Blanchardstown will host bowling, pitch and putt will take place at the Royal Meath Pitch and Putt Club, kayaking will be at Salmon Leap in Leixlip and the open water swimming event location is still to be confirmed.
A total of 2,500 volunteers will be required to ensure the successful staging of these Games a major volunteer recruitment campaign for the Games is now underway.
If you wish to volunteer for the 2018 Special Olympics Ireland Games, check out www.specialolympics.ie for full information.

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