Utah Special Olympians Prepare to Compete in Dublin

Utah Special Olympians Prepare to Compete in Dublin

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A record number of fans turned out for the US women's soccer match against Ireland at Rice Eccles Stadium this weekend.

Among them was a crew of Utah athletes who found themselves cheering for both sides.

Utah's top Special Olympians came out to support Ireland's soccer team, before heading to Dublin themselves for the World Special Olympic Games.

Donna Schartz Special Olympian/Cycling: "It's neat coming to see them before going to Ireland . . . I felt really good, because this is like my biggest dream -- to make it to the world games."

Mike Rice/Utah Special Olympics Coach: "These athletes are 12 of 7,000 in the whole world who get to go to the world games and special olympians these days, there are about a million and a half participants, so to be one of the 7,000 and the 12 from Utah, it's a big deal."

Utah's Special Olympians will spend most of their time in Dublin, competing in everything from cycling and track and field events to bowling and horseback riding.

Noelle Meeke/Ireland National Soccer Team: "They inspire us, right? Isn't that what it's all about? We met some in the hotel and what else can you say, they're just awesome."

While here, the Irish Team and Utah's Special Olympic Athletes had a party where they traded tips on making the most of their foreign experience.

And win or lose, the Ireland crew says enjoy the celebration. And Utahns, they say, can count on the Irish to return the hospitality.

Utah's Special Olympians will be in Ireland for nearly three weeks competing.

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