Horse and pony - site index.Horse chat message boards.Horse breeds, types and breeding gallery.Search for horse information on Equiworld.Horse information and equestrian news horse and pony magazine.Horse web links.  

Special Olympics World Games 2003

Equestrian Update

The countdown to the Special Olympics World Games 2003 is now entering its final stages. The venue is nearing completion, the volunteer team is in place and going through the final stages of their job specific training whilst the athletes are in full training and preparation, eagerly awaiting the games. For the athletes this is their 'finale', having been selected to represent their delegations following local, regional, and national games since the last World Games held in the Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex, North Carolina, four years ago. For the athletes, the volunteers and the games organising committee there is only one chance to deliver a unique and unparallel sporting and cultural experience for all involved.

The goodwill expressed in the locality and equestrian world is now being realised and is truly amazing to witness its evolution. This feeling of goodwill will be carried out throughout the country during the games and will make the occasion a highlight of many people's lives. Indeed for Kill International Equestrian Centre this will be the first competition to be held in the purpose built venue.

"My own personal experience of the games started four years ago when I travelled to North Carolina to observe what would be expected in 2003. My first involvement in organising the games was when we ran the National Games last June, an experience that I cherish. It was unique the way that the volunteers, strangers before the game, came together to perform whatever was asked of them. The sense of enthusiasm, warmth, dignity and respect in a sporting capacity was one that I never had experienced before."

"At the closing awards ceremony last June I had to leave the arena before saying a few words of thanks because I had a lump in my throat. Looking around the arena at the athletes, their parents, families, friends, coaches and volunteers, you could only start to begin to understand what this meant to them and in turn understand the true meaning of the word 'special'".

"For us at Kill International it is a pleasure and indeed a privilege that the equestrian events of the Special Olympics World Games will be the first competition to mark the opening of the 'Kathleen Flannelly Memorial Arena'. Mum was always renowned for her hospitality and warmth, and this will undoubtedly be mirrored by the welcome everyone will receive from the volunteer team from the moment they enter the Olympic complex."

The new Olympic complex has been built adjacent to the old centre which the Flannelly family took over nearly thirteen years ago. The old centre has now been demolished to make way for a 52 townhouse development, 'The Stables', which will be launched in July. In turn this has financed the new set-up which sees the livery barn, competition barn, tack rooms, work stations, solariums, three indoor arenas, bar restaurant, changing rooms, showers, club rooms, offices, receptions all under one roof. In addition there are two new outdoor arenas, the riding school barn and a horse walker.

"We are extremely proud of our new facility which will benefit the sport for many years to come. Anyone who has seen the facility to date have been impressed but for now the focus remains on providing these facilities to deliver the best ever athlete focused games"

However the venue is only one ingredient in achieving this goal. The team to deliver the games in Kill is made up of 500 volunteers with a wide range of skills and experience. Indeed by last autumn Kill was one of the first venues to be over-subscribed with over 800 volunteers selecting Kill as their preferred venue. There is also the matter of our 100 'four legged' volunteers which have now been finalised. Over the past two years Shirley McDermott, Sports commissioner for 2003 has tried and tested hundreds of horses from all round the country in order to select the most suitable horses for the athletes.

The equestrian events in Kill will see 138 athletes from 22 delegations taking part. Each athlete may enter into three competitions, which include English equitation, working trails, dressage, prix caprilli and gymkhana games. The matching process for the athletes will take place on 19th, 21st, 22nd June. At this point the coaches have the opportunity to select from a pool of horses the most suitable for their athlete. This is then followed on 23rd June by the divisioning process which grades the athletes into various competition levels of ability before competition begins on Tuesday 24th June. At this point it is envisaged that competition will run through the week until Saturday lunchtime.

Award ceremonies will take place at lunch after the morning session and in the late afternoon after the afternoon competitions are complete. Throughout the week there will be various demonstrations and entertainment during the mid-day interval whilst following the Friday afternoon awards ceremony there will be a parade of all the volunteer horses in way of acknowledgement to the horses and their horse owners for their valued contribution.

Fintan Flannelly Jnr.
Venue Manager


Find out more, visit the links page or find answers on the message board.