Aoife McMahon from Clonakilty will travel to Abu Dhabi in March with the Team Ireland squad to compete in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Aoife will represent Team Ireland in table tennis. Finn McCarthy reports.
Team Ireland will join 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 170 countries at the Games taking place from March 14-21.
“I’m very excited, as it’s a big honour to be representing Clonakilty and Ireland,” says Aoife, who will compete in ladies and mixed doubles and singles competitions.
Her coach in Clonakilty, Ivan Shorten, says that Aoife is well prepared for the big event. “Aoife has been training as hard as someone who trains in the main leagues,” says Ivan. “She trains twice a week on Mondays and Fridays and does a lot of walking so she is really very fit. Aoife has shown great resilience and determination in preparation for the World Games.”
Aoife has also been travelling up to Dublin at weekends to train with her Dublin coach, Caroline.
“She has great focus,” says Ivan
Aoife has received brilliant support from her friends, family, the staff at Cope and her boyfriend Larry O’Donovan, who also plays table tennis. Aoife’s sister, Finola, will travel from Switzerland to Abu Dhabi to support her.
“Aoife will hopefully have the luck of the Irish on her side, as she will be playing on St. Patrick’s weekend,” says Ivan.
COPE Foundation provides a comprehensive range of services for approx sixty adults with an intellectual disability from its Day Centre in Clogheen Clonakilty. Cope opened a residential centre in Scartagh, Clonakilty in 1985 and the day centre in Clogheen opened in 1995.
The aim of the day centre is to provide a safe environment, from where people can access activities or events, of their choosing, either in the centre or in the local community.
Through its system of adult day services, supported employment, information, training and advice, Cope’s vision and mission is to fulfill the potential of the people it supports.
The Special Olympics World Games are held every two years. This year is the year of the summer games. More than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries will compete in 24 summer sports, along with 2,500 coaches and 20,000 volunteers. More than 750,000 people volunteer with the Special Olympics. The World Games will be the world’s largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019. This is the first Special Olympics World Games to be held in the Middle East/North Africa region.