Ennis Special Olympics Golf Club members, Paul Kirrane with his partner, Pat Rutherford , who compete in the nine-hole Alternate Shot Event, have been selected for the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in 2015, as part of the Irish team.
Paul and Pat, who won gold in this event at the National Games in Limerick in June, were absolutely thrilled with their selection. On hearing he was on the team for Los Angeles, Paul said, “There are no words to describe how happy I am”.
The Irish squad will have 89 athletes across 13 sports. They will be supported by coaching, medical and management staff, bringing the total group to 128.
The World Games are the flagship of the Special Olympics movement and, in Los Angeles, there will be 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 177 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators. The Special Olympics World Games, being staged from July 25 to August 2, 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.
The opening ceremony, to be held on July 25 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Colliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, is expected to attract 80,000 spectators. This is the stadium where John Treacy, head of the Irish Sports Council, won his silver medal in the marathon in 1984. A global programming deal will see ESPN bring coverage of World Games to millions of fans around the world.
In the build-up to the World Games, Special Olympics Ireland will put in place specific training programmes for each sport. Paul and Pat will attend four training/team-building sessions next spring, which will involve three two-day events and one three-day event.
On arrival in California, the team will disperse for three days to host families throughout the Los Angeles area to help everyone to settle in and acclimatise. After this, the team will then move to their designated accommodation for the rest of the Games.