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30 June 2003, 12:09 pm
Sailors Show Off in Ireland
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Mitchell ROBERTS (USA) © Matt Browne

2003 Special Olympics World Games

It was a perfect week for sailing at the Royal St George Yacht Club. The sun shone, the wind blew, and the rescue boats were idle. Great Britain, the USA, Austria, Greece, Finland, Spain and Switzerland competed in a week where smiles were widespread.
From athletes to volunteers, from coaches to family members, the feeling of friendship, comaraderie and sport were shared by all. The competition was praised by the head coach of the Great Britain delegation, Charlie FALCONER. "The standard of sailing has been excellent and hats off to the athletes who showed amazing ability on the water,'' he said. "I'm also very impressed with the way the event was run - very slick.''

The Greek team put in a tremendous performance, with athlete Katerina KAPRINI winning every race she competed in. The gold medal winner, who has only been sailing for one year, was delighted with her unexpected win. "I like Ireland very much and I am very happy," she declared. The largest delegation, USA, won 13 medals - among them six gold, four silver and three bronze - a tremendous achievement for all involved. Austria's team of three brought home one gold and two silver medals. The four athletes from Spain have, between them, taken a gold and three silver, while the four sailors from Great Britain raced to a win of two gold and two silver medals.

Finland, too, will arrive home proudly carrying two gold and one silver medals, while the sole Swiss team member is delighted to have claimed a bronze. The atmosphere at Dun Laoghaire was enhanced by various extra events, including a VIP race in which Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy SHRIVER took to the seas to race the competition course.

There were tours of the local Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboat station, naval vessel LE Niamh, and tall ship Asgard which provided excitement for the athletes between races.

Venue manager Eunice Kennedy, who led the preparations at the Club for the last two years, was delighted with the success of the event. "So many people worked so hard to make this the magical occasion it has been,'' she said. "It was a great competition for the athletes, and a truly inspiring experience for everyone involved. No-one wanted it to end.''

Full Results are available on the event website at the address below.
Alana Kirk (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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