The green and red of Mayo will be flying high in the City of Angels next July as two athletes from the county are to represent Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
There were celebrations in Claremorris and Castlebar when it was announced this week that Aoife Beston, a member of Claremorris All Stars Club, and Martina Walsh, from the Castlebar Strikers Bowling Club, secured a place on Team Ireland.
Ms Beston will be bidding for Olympic glory in athletics while Ms Walsh will be competing as part of the six-person Irish bowling team.
Ms Walsh said she was very proud to be selected.
“I was delighted and my club was over the moon,” she added.
The Special Olympics World Games will see 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 177 countries across the globe converge on LA for nine days from July 25 to August 2.
Some 30,000 volunteers, 2,000 media representatives, and more than 500,000 spectators will attend the games.
The opening ceremony on July 25 will be a star-studded event in the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which has hosted the Olympic Games on two occasions, in 1932 and in 1984.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are the co-chairs of the games.
Altogether, 88 athletes will make-up Team Ireland at the games, competing in aquatics, athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, and table tennis.
CEO of Special Olympics Ireland Matt English said it is a “tremendous achievement” to be selected to represent Team Ireland at the world games.
He said fundraising the €440,000 necessary to send the team to LA is now the top priority.
“Over the coming months we will be working hard to generate the necessary funds and I am confident that the business world will answer our call for support as they have done so many times in the past,” he said.
“Special Olympics Ireland is calling on businesses across the country to be generous in their support of our local athletes as they prepare for this important milestone in their Special Olympics journey.
“The support and generosity of businesses and corporate donors will ensure that Team Ireland athletes enjoy their momentous World Games experience to the full.”