Local athletes go for gold at Special Olympics Euro Games

Darren McClatchey, Bocce. Picture by Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE
Darren McClatchey, Bocce. Picture by Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

Two Banbridge athletes are setting their sights on a gold medal at the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games in Antwerp.

Darren McClatchey (31), who will compete in Bocce and Tony Lunny (29), who will compete in Gymnastics, at the Games is one of seven local Special Olympics Ulster athletes representing Team Ireland in Belgium this month.

Tony Lunny, Gymnastics. Picture by Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

Tony Lunny, Gymnastics. Picture by Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE

The local athletes are part of a 46-strong Team Ireland squad that flew out to Belgium on Tuesday September 9 for the European Games. The team will compete in a range of sports at the athletics, aquatics, bocce, gymnastics, football (seven-a-side) and table tennis.

Team Ireland will spend just under two weeks in Belgium and will be supported by an 18 strong management team. Some 140 family members will also travel to Belgium to cheer on the athletes and ensure Team Ireland gets the strong support it deserves.

Over the next few weeks, the city of Antwerp, Belgium will welcome more than 2,000 Special Olympics athletes from 58 countries, as hosts of the 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games, which runs 9-20 September.

Shaun Cassidy, regional director, Special Olympics Ulster said: “The Special Olympics European Games are set to be amongst the most high profile sporting events in Europe this year and we are proud to have such a strong delegation of Ulster athletes representing Team Ireland this September.

“Special Olympics Ulster supports over 2,000 athletes with an intellectual disability in Ulster, with year-round activities in 92 clubs across the region. For our athletes to reach this level of competition is a real achievement; we wish Darren, Tony and the whole team well as they prepare for the Games and would encourage people to support our local athletes as they strive to achieve their best.”

Special Olympics Ireland CEO, Matt English added: “Special Olympics Ireland is really looking forward to Antwerp 2014. ‘A Great Performance Deserves a Great Audience’ is the theme of the Games and we are calling on everyone to get behind these extraordinary athletes who overcome so many hurdles to be able to compete at this level.”

Keep up to date with Team Ireland at the European Games on Twitter; follow and tweet @SOIreland and @SO_Ulster or like them on Facebook Facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsUlster