Mayo Olympians on world stage in the City of Angels

Los Angeles has long been known as the City of Angels but it is to become a city of dreams for two Mayo athletes tomorrow.

Special Olympians Aoife Beston from Claremorris and Martina Walshe from Castlebar are in LA and ready to line-out with Team Ireland at tomorrow evening's opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games in the iconic Los Angeles Coliseum.

They are part of an 88-strong team of athletes, accompanied by 40 coaches and managers, who flew out from Dublin Airport on Tuesday to represent Ireland across 13 sports at the Special Olympics World Games.

Ms Beston will compete in athletics while Ms Walshe will compete on the six-person Irish bowling team.

Some 7,000 athletes from 177 countries, 30,000 volunteers, 2,000 media representatives, and more than 500,000 spectators will attend the games over the next nine days.

Two of Team Ireland's coaches also hail from Mayo. Mick Fahy from Castlebar is the head coach of the kayaking team while Tommy Canavan from Ballina is an aquatics coach.

Additionally, nine volunteers from across Mayo are flying out to LA next week to help with the huge logistical operation involved in staging the games. They are Paul Behan, Linda Heraty, John Beston, Ian Canavan, Natasha Langdon, Miriam Judge, Helen Shannon, Louise Gill and Louise O'Hora.

The Special Olympics World Games, which holds a very special place in the hearts of Irish people after they were hosted here in 2003, are taking place in one of the most historic stadiums in America.

The Los Angeles Coliseum has hosted the Summer Olympic Games on two occasions, in 1932 and in 1984.

Actor Colin Farrell and Olympic medalist John Treacy, who won silver in the marathon event at the LA Olympics in 1984, will lead Team Ireland out at tomorrow's opening ceremony at 5pm (local time ).


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