Meet Ireland’s team for the 2023 Special Olympics in Berlin

  • 23 May 2023, 13:43

Ireland will be represented by an equestrian team of four riders at this summer’s Special Olympics in Berlin, proudly supported by Horse Sport Ireland (HSI).

The team, consisting of Sligo’s Noel Coen, Kilkenny’s Gemma Haire, Tipperary’s Declan Foley and Down’s Leah Fegan, will travel to Germany for the Games next month and were presented with their team kit at a training afternoon on Saturday.

To find out more about each athlete, see their profile pictures and biographies below.

Under the watchful eye of coaches Etta Hays and Peter King, as well as Team Assistant Irene Lawlor, the athletes were put through their paces at the Sport Ireland National Horse Sport Arena during their final training session in preparation for the Games.

The athletes and coaches have been working closely together since the turn of the year and are now ready to take the Special Olympics by storm.

Ireland athletes Declan Foley and Gemma Haire will travel to Berlin for the Special Olympics

John McNaboe, Head of Delegation for Special Olympics Team Ireland, said: “Special Olympics Team Ireland 2023 were delighted to hold their final training session ahead of the World Games in June the National Sports Campus on Saturday 20th May.

“The four athletes on the team, Leah Fegan, Gemma Haire, Noel Coen and Declan Foley had an excellent session with coaches Etta Hayes and Peter King in the beautiful surroundings on the campus.

“Massive thanks to Horse Sport Ireland for the assistance and support in organising the training session and also for the generous team kit which all the athletes received.

“The athletes have been training since January, will travel to Berlin on the 12th June until the 26th June and will participate in English Equitation, Working Trails and Dressage at the Games and they are all super excited for what promises to be a trip of a lifetime.”

Leah Fegan and Noel Coen  will travel to Berlin for the Special Olympics

In attendance at the final training were High Performance Manager Triona Connors and HSI Head of Sport, Legal and Governance Avalon Everett and the latter said: “Celebrating the power of equestrian sports, we are proud to support Ireland’s equestrian team as they embark on their journey to the Special Olympics in Berlin.

“The dedication, skill, and unwavering spirit of these athletes are truly inspiring. Horse Sport Ireland is honoured to be a part of their preparation, providing assistance, and supplying the team kit.

“We wish the athletes, Noel, Gemma, Declan, and Leah, every success as they represent our nation on the global stage. Their passion for equestrianism exemplifies the transformative impact of sport, and we stand behind them as they showcase their talents. Go Team Ireland!”