And they are off!! Team Ireland depart for Abu Dhabi

There were exciting scenes at Dublin Airport on Thursday as 91 athletes from right across Ireland got set to jet off to Abu Dhabi for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

The athletes gathered in the airport from early morning with their family and friends before walking through a guard of honour from their loved ones and boarding their flight, with dreams of success in their various sports.

Before their departure many of the Team did interviews with local papers, radio and TV and many of them spoke about the pride of representing Team Ireland and excitement of what lays ahead.

With 350 family and friends also making the trip to support their loved ones, Ireland is set to be one of the best supported nations at the Games. Second only to the United States, this wealth of encouragement is certain to give Team Ireland the edge as they step up to compete.

Team Ireland will compete in 12 sports: athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, swimming and table tennis. The athletes’ selection comes after three years of training and competition, preparing them for their biggest sporting challenge to date.

Team Ireland are currently preparing for their World Games experience with a visit to Dubai as part of the Host Town programme. During this time, the athletes have an opportunity to acclimatise to their surroundings with a range of cultural events and activities before the official Opening Ceremony on Thursday 14 March.

The Opening Ceremony, which will take place at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium, is set to be a spectacular celebration of humanity at its best. More than 40,000 spectators will witness 170 nations take place in a celebratory parade, with the athletes being accompanied by a number of international celebrities including singer and Special Olympics Global Ambassador, Nicole Scherzinger.

We will be providing regular updates from Team Ireland right here on on our social media channels so stay tuned and make sure to tag us in your photos as we celebrate these incredible athletes!

For all the photos from the Team Departure Click Here

Link to Newstalk coverge

Irish Times coverage

Independent.ie coverage