Special Olympics Winter Games athletes say goodbye at Dublin Airport

Excitement is building ahead of the Winter Olympics

There were scenes of excitement and nerves in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport as 26 athletes departed for the Special Olympic World Winter Games in Austria.

Aer Lingus Flight Ei660 took off at 7.10am to Vienna this morning with the athletes' hopes of a medal on board. This is the biggest ever representation for Ireland yet at the Winter Games. The Special Olympics World Winter Games is the largest sport event anywhere in the world in 2017.

Henry McKean was at Dublin Airport and he gave us a feel for the atmosphere: "It’s brilliant, the flight left on time, families from across Ireland are here to wave off their friends and relatives,” he said.

"Ireland is competing in two sports, Alpine Skiing and Floorball which is a bit like ice hockey but played on a synthetic surface. There are six alpine skiers and two teams of ten floorball athletes making up the squad. 100 Irish volunteers are going and 12 in support coaching, medical, logistics and mentoring roles."  

McKean spoke to a number of families who were at the airport. One family is travelling in huge numbers as 20 of them have decided to go over to Austria to support 16 year old Elisha Kenny. Her father, Austin Kenny said: “There’s 20 from our family going. It’s a big Irish contingent, including my mother who is 85 years of age."