Team Ireland fired up and ready for Special Olympics World Winter Games

26 Irish men and women will join nearly 3,000 athletes from 107 different countries for the games in Austria next year

A total of 26 athletes from across the country will represent Ireland at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria next year.

Team Ireland will join nearly 3,000 Special Olympics athletes from 107 different countries for the games in Graz and Schladming, Austria in March 2017.

The Irish squad will compete in the alpine skiing and floorball events - with six skiers and two teams of 10 floorball players travelling to the games.

The athletes will be supported at the games by up to 100 Irish volunteers as well as family members and friends.

Special Olympics Ireland CEO, Matt English said the team is “very excited” - and ready to compete when the games roll around:

Floorball is a new sport played with similar rules to ice hockey - but not on ice.

It first featured as a demonstration sport in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea in 2015.

This year will see the sport feature in an official capacity for the first time with Team Ireland one of twenty teams going for gold.

Team Ireland for the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria

Mr English said the athlete's families, coaches and volunteers have been supporting the team throughout the year:

He said he is “extremely proud” of all the Team Ireland athletes.

“Each selected athlete has shown unwavering motivation, strong discipline and tremendous skill in getting this far,” he said. 

“The entire country will be cheering on and celebrating Team Ireland throughout the competition.”

The Opening Ceremony for the games will be held at the WM-Stadium, Schladming on the 18th March, with thousands of spectators expected to attend.