Thomond roar to welcome special athletes

AS a great sports venue, Thomond Park has often been described as a cauldron. This evening it will live up to the analogy.

Thousands will throng the home of Limerick rugby for the official opening of the Special Olympics Ireland Games which will feature a live performance by The Cranberries.

More than 1,900 athletes will compete over the next four games in 13 different disciplines.

Much of the games will be centred at the University of Limerick campus. More than 3,500 volunteers have signed up to help and it is estimated up 5,000 family and friends will cheer competitors.

A team of athletes bearing the Olympic flame were yesterday given special access to the new €660 million tunnel road under the River Shannon which is due to open to traffic in the coming weeks. Athletes bearing the flame included Michael Mullins, Seán Keogh, Mark Kavanagh, Ross Stewart and Sinéad Kingston.

Matt English, chief executive of Special Olympics Ireland, said: “We arevery grateful for all the support we have received so far from the people of Limerick as well as all the people who have offered their time and expertise to us.”

Mayor Kevin Kiely said: “On behalf of the people of Limerick I would like to welcome all the athletes, their friends and families to Limerick and I hope they have a memorable experience.”

More in this section