Byrne and Jones’s Irish call

by Gazette Reporter

CLONDALKIN basketballer Sarah Byrne and footballer Stephen Joyce have both been named in the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2015 following their inclusion in the Irish squad for the event that takes place in Los Angeles.

They are among 32 Dubliners in the 88 strong Team Ireland athletes for the event that runs from July 25 to August 2.

Byrne, 17, is no stranger to the World Games having won a silver medal in Athens back in 2011. She considers this victory to be the highlight of her time with Special Olympics thus far, describing her overall experience as “a dream come true”.

In preparation for the upcoming Los Angeles world games this summer, Byrne is currently training three times a week with her Special Olympics club the Palmerstown Wildcats.

Having played basketball for seven years, now she knows the level of dedication it requires. In addition she also does football, athletics and floorball in school.

Joyce, 22, meanwhile said of his selection: “I felt great and excited”. In fact out of all the memorable experiences he has had, Stephen considers this moment as his favourite to date saying he loved: “Getting picked for Special Olympics to represent Ireland”.

He has played his football with Ronanstown FC for the past four years and is looking forward to the global event.

With just six months until the World Games kick off, Team Ireland is busy preparing and training for the games with the athletes supported by a 40-strong management and coaching staff.

This summer, the iconic city of Los Angeles will welcome 7,000 athletes from 177 countries to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Supported by over 30,000 volunteers – including 200 from across the island of Ireland – the games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.

Matt English, chief executive of Special Olympics Ireland, said: “2015 is shaping up to be a huge year for our athletes. It’s a tremendous achievement to be selected to represent Team Ireland at LA 2015.

“Over the coming months we will be working hard to generate the necessary funds to send Team Ireland athletes to the World Games and I am confident that the business world will answer our call for support as they have done so many times in the past.

“Special Olympics Ireland is calling on businesses across the country to be generous in their support of our local athletes as they prepare for this important milestone in their Special Olympics journey.”

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