Ballyclare is one of the towns chosen to host the Special Olympics Torch Run Ceremony this year. The Torch Run takes place between June 16th and June 21st with the team arriving at Ballyclare Market Square on Wednesday 21st June at 1.45pm.
The team of 40 runners, made up of 34 Garda Síochána and PSNI recruits and 6 Special Olympics athletes, will visit 50 towns and cities throughout the North and South of Ireland with the Special Olympics Torch, the "Flame of Hope." The Flame will then make its way to the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Games on June 21st and light the cauldron that signifies the start of the Games.
Belfast will host the Special Olympics Ireland Summer Games for the first time from 21st – 25th June 2006. Many of the competitors and their families are staying in the University of Ulster, Jordanstown and the Pitch and Putt Competition is taking place at Ballyearl Arts and Leisure Centre.
Looking forward to the event, the Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Lynn Frazer, said:
“I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and dedication of all involved, particularly the athletes, who are an inspiration to each one of us. Newtownabbey is honoured to play such an important role in the Games and I encourage everyone in the Borough to show local and national athletes what a warm welcome Newtownabbey has to offer them.
I will be supporting the athletes at the Torch Run in Ballyclare and at the Pitch and Putt competition in Ballyearl Arts and Leisure Centre and I hope many local people will join me to cheer them on.”
More than 2,000 athletes and 500 coaches will participate in 12 sports and the motor activities training programme event during the four-day event. Some 5,500 volunteers have been recruited to run the games and 4,000 family members will attend. This is the first time ever that the games will be held outside Dublin. The games are the highest level of Special Olympics competition on the island of Ireland and are the qualifiers for the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games which take place in Shanghai