Ormond Special Olympics Club athletes ready for Ireland Games. Photo credit: William Monaco, Thurles
Ormond Special Olympics Club, Nenagh are hoping for a great send-off for eight of its athletes who have been selected to join the Munster Athletics Squad for the forthcoming Ireland Special Olympic Games.
The team will depart from outside the Tipp FM Broadcast Centre in Pearse Street, Nenagh at around 10am on Thursday 14th June. Coverage of their departure will air on The Fran Curry Show from 9.30am. They will be accompanied by a Garda escort as they set off on their way to Dublin to join the rest of the Munster Team and other Special Olympics athletes from all over Ireland for The Opening Ceremony in Tallaght Stadium.
The athletes will be accompanied by their coach/chaperones, Brid Mackey and Annagh Roche, and Ormond Club Head Coach, Pauline Nugent, who has again been selected as Head Coach, Athletics for the Munster Team.
Pauline said " Ormond Special Olympics Club is so proud and delighted to have 8 of our local athletes selected to represent Nenagh and Munster in The Ireland Games. Our athletes and their local club team mates have been training hard for this event all year, not only here in Nenagh College, but also at Moyne Athletics Club and Templemore Athletics Track. They have also joined the rest of The Munster Athletics Team for sessions in Nenagh Indoor Track, University of Limerick and CIT Cork. This will be my 5th Ireland Games and I honestly believe our local club athletes and this Munster squad is the best prepared I have seen in all those years. We have great hopes and expectations that we will see some Personal Best performances from them all."
Lucy O'Neill, who is also a member of Ormond Special Olympics Club for both Track and Field events, has been selected for The Munster Aquatics Team from Limerick City Special Olympics Swimming Club where she trains for swimming. Her team mates locally wish her all the best in The National Aquatics Centre.
The Games will be held in various venues in Dublin from 14th to 17th June with a total of 1600 athletes competing for their region in 13 different sports over a 4 day period . This will be the biggest sporting event in Ireland in 2018.
Special Olympics has extended an invitation to the people of Ireland to come visit the Games. This family-friendly event is completely free and details of venues, times, etc. are available at www.irelandgames.ie.
Even if you are not able to make it to the Games venues around Dublin, the athletes hope you will pop into Nenagh on Thursday morning, 14th June to cheer them off and wish them well in what will undoubtedly be a memorable sporting memory for them all.
They will be returning to The Abbey Court Hotel on Sunday evening 17th June where a Welcome Home Reception is planned for friends and families to celebrate their achievements.
Meet the Athletes:
Name: AIFE Dalton
At 14 years of age Aife is the youngest member from Ormond Special Olympics Club on the Munster Athletics Team. She lives in Ballina and attends St Annes Special School, Roscrea.
Aife's mother, Annagh is Chairperson of Ormond Club and has recently qualified as an Athletics Coach after completing The Athletics Ireland Coaching Course. Aife's sister , Siban, is also a volunteer with the Club.
A member of Ormond Special Olympics Club for the last 8 years, Aife trains every week in Athletics in both track and field. She is also a member of Limerick City Special Olympics Swimming Club. At the forthcoming Ireland Special Olympic Games in Dublin, she will be competing in 100m Sprint and TurboJav. She is also a member of the Munster 4x100m relay Team.
Her wide range of sporting involvement includes Judo, Horse Riding, Basketball, Swimming, Soccer and Rugby. She is an avid Munster Rugby fan and attends as many games as she can,(favourite player Jack O'Donoghue - at the moment!!!)
Aife took part in a recent radio interview about Special Olympics on The Fran Curry Show on Tipp FM. She was joined by her service dog, Sadie, and was confident in sharing her experiences and expectations about the forthcoming Games.
This will be the first time Aife will compete in the National Games and she is very proud to be wearing the Munster kit. The things she is most looking forward to are making new friends, having fun and doing her best in every event. She is very appreciative of all the guidance given to her by her coaches, and wishes all her teammates the best of luck.
Name:- Rachel Ryan
Rachel is 29 years of age and lives in Templemore. She attends LIT College in Thurles and is hoping in due course to complete a Masters Degree in Sports Strength and Conditioning.
Rachel has been a member of Ormond Special Olympics Club for over 15 years and has been one of the club's outstanding athletes over that period. She will be competing in the National Games in 200m, 400m and the 4x100m Relay Team.
At this stage Rachel is a veteran of both the Munster Team and The Ireland National Teams, having previously been successful in selection for the Munster Athletics Team in the last 3 National Games, leading on to progression into the Ireland Special Olympics Team for The European Youth Games in 2006 in Rome, The World Games in 2011 in Athens and 2015 in Los Angeles.
Her hobbies are Taekwondo, listening to music and doing new things. She has also been doing additional training with a mainstream athletics club to help her in competitions.
At the National Games in Dublin, she is looking forward to meeting new people, competing to the best of her ability and adding to her already large collection of Special Olympics pins which are a popular souvenir of every Games.
Name:- James Brennan
Although only 19 years of age, James has already been a member of Ormond Special Olympics Club for some 12 years. He also trains with Limerick City SO Swimming Club.
He lives with his parents in Ballingarry and attends The Innovation Centre in Limerick. James' mother, Helen, is a volunteer with Ormond Club and has recently successfully qualified as an Athletics Coach after completing the Athletics Coaching Course run by Athletics Ireland.
James was selected for the Munster Team as a result of his outstanding club performances at provincial competition in CIT Cork.
This is the first time James has been selected to represent Munster Athletics and he is very excited by the opportunity to travel away from home to take part in such a prestigious sports event. His events in the Dublin National Games will be the 100m, Turbojav and 4x100m Relay.
James is a keen hurling man and a staunch Tipperary fan. He is an all round sportsman and participates in numerous sporting activities at his work centre 5 days a week.
He is looking forward to the Games in Dublin and to enjoying taking part in the competition alongside his friends and teammates.
Name: Moira Horan
Moira lives in Templetuohy and has been a member of Special Olympics for some 20 years. Now a very experienced competitor at National and World Games, Moira's events in Dublin will be Long Jump, 100m and 4x100m Relay.
She is delighted to have been selected for the honour of being the Special Olympics Munster Flag Bearer for the Games Opening Ceremony on Thursday 14th June.
Her previous experience in competition goes back to The World Games in Dublin in 2003, and she also represented the Munster Athletics Team in the National Games in 2002, 2006 and 2014.
Moira's outstanding performance in The 2003 World Games led to her being invited to attend The IAAF Meeting in Paris to watch Sonia O'Sullivan in an important race in the Stade Francais.
Moira and her partner Willy own, train and race Greyhounds and she also likes music and walking. She particularly enjoys competing in the Long Jump at which she is hoping to further extend her Personal Best distance achieved at training this week. She is also looking forward to doing her best in all her events at the Games, and the opportunity to meet new people and meet up again with old friends.
Her outstanding memory of Special Olympics will always be when she represented Ireland in the first World Games to be held outside USA in 2003 in Dublin, when she had the privilege of meeting "The Greatest" - Muhammad Ali.
Name: Kieran Doughan
Aged 29, Kieran lives at home with his parents, Paul and Mary, in Cloughjordan and has been an athlete with the club for over 20 years. He attends St Cronan's in Roscrea.
His brother Padraig has been a volunteer with Ormond Club for many years.
Kieran represented Munster in The National Games in Limerick in 2014 and is delighted to have been selected again to represent his province in the forthcoming Games in Dublin.
His events are 100m, Turbojav and 4x100m Relay. His selection for the Munster Athletics Team followed an outstanding performance on the track at the Special Olympics Munster Regional Finals in CIT last year.
Kieran's hobbies include all GAA, Soccer and walking, and he can be seen regularly hiking in the hills of Tipperary with his extended family.
A hugely enthusiastic competitor he is looking forward to participating in the Ireland Games in Dublin and achieving the best possible performances in all his events.
Kieran also enjoys the social side of Special Olympics, particularly music and parties, and will again undoubtedly be leading the dancing at the disco in the entertainment marquee!
Name: Aisling Maher
Aisling lives in Templetuohy and is 30 years of age. She works in Semple Stadium. Her mother, Aine, is a volunteer with Ormond Club and successfully qualified as an athletics coach having recently completed The Athletics Ireland Coaching Course.
A real all round athlete in both track and field, Aisling has been in Special Olympics for over 20 years, and is also a very active competitor and committee member with Moyne Athletics Club.
Her history in Special Olympics goes back to The European Invitational Athletics Games in 2001 in Hungary where she competed in 800m and 1500m. She followed this up by selection for the Munster Team in The National Games held in Dublin in 2002. The National Games in Limerick in 2014 saw her representing Munster when featuring again in the 1500m, whilst also successfully diversifying into the Turbojav.
In the Ireland Games she will be competing in 100m, Turbojav, and 4x100m Relay. Aisling is an outstanding sprinter, middle distance runner and field athlete in both Moyne Athletics Club and Special Olympics, and also counts cycling and hurling among her many sporting interests. She has numerous friends and supporters in both mainstream and Special Olympics and she is looking forward to meeting new people in Dublin and having fun with all her team mates.
Name: William Ryan
Twenty four year old William lives with his family in Castleiney, Templemore and attends The Rehab Resource Centre in Thurles.
William is a younger brother of Rachel Ryan, and he and his family have been active supporters of Ormond Special Olympics Club at both Coaching and Committee levels for many years.
The Ireland Games in Belfast in 2006 was William's first appearance in the Munster kit where he competed in Swimming. This was followed by selection once more to The Munster Team in 2014 but this time in Athletics when The Ireland Games were held in Limerick.
As well as athletics, William's hobbies include Music, Boxing, Horse Riding and Swimming. William will be competing in 100m and Turbojav in Dublin.
He is looking forward to being as successful as he possibly can in both his events and generally enjoying the overall experience. He especially wanted to thank his coaches for all their guidance in the run up to the Games.
Name: Niamh Slattery
Niamh lives with her family in Ballywilliam and attends Catherine Macauley School in Limerick. At 16 years of age, she is the second youngest member of Ormond Special Olympics Club to be selected for The Munster Athletics Team.
Niamh has been an athlete with the club for 3 years and this will be her first experience of representing Munster in The Special Olympics Ireland Games in Dublin. Her events are 100m, Long Jump and 4 x 100m Relay. She has been regularly putting in Personal Best performances in the Long Jump in recent competitions and training, and hopes to extend this further when she competes in Dublin.
Having recently been involved in a radio interview about Special Olympics with Fran Curry on Tipp FM, Niamh was invited to be interviewed on stage for the launch of Team Munster in City Hall in Cork last month. Once again she handled all questions with confidence and clarity, and was a credit to her colleagues in Ormond Club, Nenagh and her family.
Niamh's family are avid supporters of traditional Irish Music and Dancing, and Niamh herself plays the concertina. She also likes listening to pop music and watching TV and films, with cooking and entertaining also featuring high on the list of things she enjoys doing.
Niamh is really looking forward to competing in the Games and is most looking forward to meeting the other athletes and making new friends.
Name: Pauline Nugent, Head Coach Munster Athletics Team and Ormond Club
Pauline lives in Cloneybrien, Portroe after moving 20 years ago from England. She has been an active member of Ormond Special Olympics Club since 2000. She started as a general volunteer and then became more involved with coaching the athletes. In 2002 she decided to attend the Athletics Ireland training school to qualify as an Athletics Coach and has not looked back since.
Pauline is Sports Officer on the committee for Ormond Club and Head Athletics Coach. She is very pleased to have so many newly qualified coaches in the club and sees a very bright future for all the athletes attending club training.
Pauline was delighted to have been selected again as Head Coach for The Munster Athletics Squad for The Ireland Games in Dublin. This will be the 5th Ireland Games Pauline has attended but never before has she had such a large team. The 8 Ormond club athletes will form part of an 80 strong Munster athletics team. The responsibility for such a large squad has involved Pauline needing to organise training sessions over recent months in Cork and Limerick, and also the indoor athletics track in Nenagh.
She had previously been selected to head the Ireland Athletics team on many occasions and has been on coaching duties in Rome, Belgium, China, Greece and Poland over recent years.
In what little spare time she has had recently, she enjoys walking, cycling, gardening and getting away for breaks as often as possible in her motor home.
Name: Brid Mackey, Coach/Chaperone
Brid has been a volunteer with Ormond Special Olympics Club for around 16 years. She lives in Nenagh and works full time for Enable Ireland.
This will not be Brid's first experience of being a Coach/Chaperone with the Ormond Club athletes as she previously fulfilled the role in 2010 and 2014 at the Ireland Games in Limerick.
Undaunted by her previous service in the role she has readily volunteered once again to take responsibility for the supervision of four of the local club athletes for the duration of the Games in Dublin.
Brid is very much looking forward to ensuring the athletes are up on time each day to be ready for competition, and also help ensure that all their preparation, hard work in training, and the coaching they have received, goes well for them.
Name: Annagh Roche, Coach/Chaperone
Annagh lives in Ballina. She has been with Ormond Special Olympics Club as a volunteer for 8 years and has recently qualified as an Athletics Coach.
She is currently Chairperson of the club and mother of athlete Aife Dalton, and Aife's older sister, Siban, who is a volunteer with the club.
In spite of her full programme of family activities (she describes herself as "Taxi Mum"!!) and dedication to the Munster Rugby Team, she readily agreed to take on the role of Coach/Chaperone for 4 of the local club athletes for the Games in Dublin.
This will be Annagh's first time of traveling away with the team. She is looking forward to being able to support the athletes and help make this an enjoyable and memorable experience for them all.
She wishes all the athletes the best of luck in their events and congratulates them on the amazing achievement of being selected for the Munster Special Olympics Athletics Team.