Northern Ireland news

Ulster athletes' winning start at 2019 Special Olympics

Richard Currie, a member of Eagles SOC, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in action during Team Ireland's 10-7 win over China in a bocce match. Picture by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

ULSTER athletes have got off to a winning start at the 2019 Special Olympics, bagging two medals on the first day of competition in Abu Dhabi.

Team Ireland had an eventful day, with athletes competing in basketball, football, equestrian and badminton and results still to be finalised in artistic gymnastics, with the potential for further medals to be announced.

Richard Currie (23) from Dungannon, Co Tyrone was among the winning bocce team.

Clinching gold medals with him in the bowls event were Caroline Torpey (54) from Co Limerick, Matthew Brennan (35) from Co Galway and Ciara Joyce (33) from Co Kildare.

Also making waves was Co Down swimmer Emma Carlisle (23) from Ballygowan, who not only bagged a bronze medal in the 100m backstroke but also achieved an incredible personal best, shaving 12 seconds off her time.

Rounding off the day with a final gold medal were 25m freestyle relay swimmers Damien Breslin (23) from Co Offaly, Emma Barrett (21) from Co Clare, Chelsea Phillips (26) from Co Roscommon and Edel Armstrong (23) from Dublin.

Shaun Cassidy of Special Olympics Ulster said he was "thrilled to see such great representation from Ulster athletes" in the early stages of the competition.

"We are so proud to cheer on all of our athletes as they compete in the sport that they love, earn personal bests and enjoy the experience of a lifetime in Abu Dhabi. They are all champions in our eyes."

The World Summer Games run until March 21.

Ninety-one athletes - including 21 Ulster athletes - who have travelled to Abu Dhabi to compete as part of Team Ireland.

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