THREE OF KILKENNY’S top athletes were presented with spending money for the up-coming Special Olympics in Athens at the Watershed on Wednesday afternoon.
The athletes, Diarmuid O’Flynn and Ciara Trait in swimming and Conor Ryan in bocce are amongst the 124 strong team that will represent Ireland at these Games – the highest level of sport in the World for Special Olympics athletes.
Conor Ryan who won a gold at the national games in Limerick last year was feeling excited before heading off to Rhodes on June 20 to acclimatise before the games start on June 25. Conor said his intensive training has been going very well but he sounded a note of caution as to his chances of winning gold. He said “I won a gold medal in Limerick that was the national games. This is a big step up. We’ll see how it goes.”
Diarmuid O’Flynn who is representing Ireland in the 50m front and back crawl said he was happy with his preparation. He said “I feel happy and my coach is happy. I’m very excited.”
The most confident of the competitors is Ciara Trait. Ciara is representing Ireland in the 25m front and back crawl. She prefers front crawl and she’ll definitely be bringing a medal home in that. Ciara’s two coaches Mary Butler from SOS and Mary Dunne from the Leinster branch of the Special Olympics both think that her swimming has improved hugely recently.
To represent Ireland in any sporting event is a huge honour so gold medals or not the Kilkenny athletes are winners. In order to participate in the World Special Olympics athletes have to qualify through from regional and national rounds over a four year period. The best athlete’s from 185 countries than participate in the world games which take place this year in Athens starting on June 25.