Ulster athletes welcomed to Special Olympic World Games

First lady Michelle Obama declares the 2015 Special Olympics World Games officially open during the opening ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
First lady Michelle Obama declares the 2015 Special Olympics World Games officially open during the opening ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Michelle Obama has welcomed thousands of athletes – including 12 from Ulster – to the Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles.

The first lady opened the games on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, telling 6,500 athletes from 165 countries that she and her husband love them and are proud of them.

Team Ireland's Sean Campbell, a member of Causeway Coast Special Olympics Club, from Coleraine at the opening ceremony

Team Ireland's Sean Campbell, a member of Causeway Coast Special Olympics Club, from Coleraine at the opening ceremony

The athletes will participate in 25 sports over nine days, ranging from weightlifting to the triathlon.

Mrs Obama told the athletes: “My husband and I, we are so proud of you, so incredibly proud of you, and we love you all from the bottom of our hearts.”

She said the athletes were an example to the millions of people watching the event on television.

The World Games run until August 2. Eighty-eight Team Ireland athletes will compete in 13 different Olympic-style sports .

The 12 Special Olympics Ulster athletes are:

• Christopher Kane, 19, from Lisburn and Peter Fitzpatrick, 20, from Ballynahinch (five-a side football);

• Carole Catling, 37, from Newtownabbey (table tennis);

• Kirsty Devlin, 20, from Belfast and Patrick Quinlivan, 32, from Letterkenny, Co Donegal (gymnastics);

• Oliver Doherty, 38, from Buncrana, Co Donegal, Jill Connery, 29, from Scarva, and playing partner, Ursula McDonnell, 71, from Belfast (all golf);

• Sarah Jane Johnston, 35, from Lurgan (aquatics);

• Déarbháil Savage, 14, from Mowhan, Co Armagh (equestrian);

• Sean Campbell, 30, from Coleraine (ten pin bowling);

• Nuala Browne, 38, from Strabane (kayaking).