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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Special Olympics celebrate sixteen Ulster athletes set for World Summer Games in Berlin

Ready for the World Summer Games, Special Olympics Ulster Athletes Leah Fegan, Ellie Armstrong, Jackie Stewart and Claire O’Neill are joined by (from left) Denise Watson, Greg Magee (Sports Branch, DfC), Permanent Secretary of Department for Communities Colum Boyle, Kathryn Hill (Director of Active Communities, DfC), Regional Director Special Olympics Ulster Shaun Cassidy and Laura Walker (Sports Branch, DfC).

Sixteen athletes from across Ulster have been selected to represent Ireland at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin.

Taking centre stage at Special Olympics Ulster’s Annual General Meeting, which took place in The Pavilion atStormont Estate Wednesday 19 April 2023, the sixteen athletes from Ulster region will join a 73-strong Ireland team at the Games in June.

Supported by 60 Ireland volunteers, Team Ireland will join 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 190 nations for the Games, which is the largest inclusive sporting event in the world.

The Annual General Meeting, hosted by Denise Watson and was an exciting opportunity for Special Olympics Ulster to showcase the activity of the organisation, provide a spotlight for sport at its very best and drive the positive message about disability sport. On top of this the athletes, volunteers and family members present also received a tour of the Stormont buildings where there were some very special guests including Niall McGinn and Kim Turner from Glentoran F.C who shared their experience and expertise from performing at a world games competition to all Ulster Athletes present.

Shaun Cassidy, Regional Director for the Ulster programme said:

“I am constantly in awe of the contribution made to inclusive sport by the athletes and volunteers of the Special Olympics Ulster programme. Since the pandemic hit, it has been a challenging time for Special Olympics right across the board, however we are seeing real positivity and momentum around the creativity of sport and sport’s ability to unite once again.

“We are all looking forward to the Annual General Meeting to celebrate all athletes and volunteers as well as thanking Sport NI and the Departments of Communities, Education and Health for all their support.”

Colum Boyle, Permanent Secretary of Department for Communities which provided almost £410,000 in funding to Special Olympics Ulster in 2022/23, offered his best wishes to the athletes, coaches, supporters and volunteers ahead of this summer’s World Games.

Speaking at the event, he said:

“The 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games is a wonderful opportunity, not only to compete at the highest level but enjoy new life experiences with teammates, family and friends.

“I want to congratulate our athletes on being selected for Team Ireland and wish them well in Berlin. I’d also like to pay tribute to those who continue to play a key role in their support and development – the staff at Special OlympicsUlster, coaches, volunteers and parents.

“As well as helping our talented athletes prepare for these Games, your dedication and hard work has encouraged so many more to embrace sport, be more active, challenge perceptions and learn valuable new skills.”

Team Ireland will compete in twelve sports: athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, swimming and table tennis, with preparations for the Games already well underway.

The public can follow further news and updates in the build-up to the Games on Twitter, @SO_Ulster and @SOIrelandusing the hashtag #TeamIreland.

Further updates on Ulster Team Ireland athletes’ preparations for the Games will be posted on the Special Olympics Ulster Facebook page:

For further information about Team Ireland, please visit


  • Athletics

  • Badminton

  • Basketball

  • Bocce

  • Bowling

  • Equestrian

  • Football

  • Golf

  • Gymnastics (Artistic and Rhythmic)

  • Kayaking

  • Swimming

  • Table Tennis


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