The 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games Opening Ceremony kicked off the world's largest sporting event in 2017 last night.
Team Ireland joined a parade of 2,600 athletes in Austria last night.
A squad of 26 Team Ireland athletes, featuring six alpine skiers and 20 floorballers, joined athletes from 104 other nations for the glittering event in Schladming featuring a performance from international recording artist Jason Mraz.
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins led the well wishes to Team Ireland in an official letter where he said: "Being chosen to represent your country on the international stage is a great honour indeed.
"It is a tribute, not only to your great talent as athletes, but also to your dedication, hard work and perseverance. Those are qualities which make you inspirational role models and admirable Ambassadors for Ireland.
“I wish you every success in the World Winter Games, and thank you for all you do to enhance Ireland’s reputation for sport across the world." (Official Letter Attached)
Special Olympics International CEO Mary Davis led out Ireland's Parade of Athletes. She said, "We’re all set for the competition and of course tonight is a very exciting night. What a proud moment it is for the athletes to come here as champions who will return back to their various different nations as heroes."