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Bangor PhD student selected for Special Olympics 2011 Delegation

Niamh-Elizabeth Reilly, 27, a School of Sport, Health and Exercises Sciences (SHES) PhD student at Bangor University, has been selected as a Student Delegate for the 2011 Special Olympics World Games in Athens this June. 

Niamh is one of only twelve students selected worldwide and will have the opportunity to present the findings from her PhD study, conducted as part of the SHES and Mencap Cymru KESS project. 

The aims of the Delegation are to highlight the work of the next generation of researchers to help expand the Special Olympic movement and improve the field of study around intellectual disabilities. 

She said: “I feel very honoured to have been selected as I am one of only twelve students selected from a worldwide search. I am also the only student delegate from UK or Ireland.”

Niamh has also been given full access to all sporting events at the games in Athens and has been asked to be part of a larger group of scholars at the Games who will participate in additional sessions focusing on new areas of intellectual disability research and shaping Special Olympics future research agenda.

She added: “As an athletics coach and athlete I am very much looking forward to watching all the athletics events and I will be supporting Team GB and Team Ireland. I am also really looking forward to attending the healthy athlete screening and learning more about this process and its implications.”

Niamh, originally from Co. Kildare, Ireland, is currently conducting research on the movement capabilities of individuals with Downs Syndrome as part of a successful ESF funded KESS scholarship between academic staff at SSHES (Dr. Gavin Lawrence and Prof. Michael Khan) and the company partner Mencap Cymru. 

She said: “I  feel I will gain substantial information concerning the planning and research opportunities presented by Special Olympics and I shall be able to bring this back to the University and Mencap Cymru and in turn increase our knowledge and involvement within this organisation.”

About her course, she said: “I am extremely passionate about intellectual disability research and sport. Knowing that my research and involvement has the potential to really help individuals is very rewarding and I love every minute of it. 

“One of the highlights during my time at Bangor has been setting up and managing the Mencap Cymru Football Team and taking them to the European Championships in Geneva in May 2010.

“My career aspirations are to continue research into the field of intellectual disabilities. I would love to get more involved with the Special Olympics and the Paralympics as a researcher, sport psychologist and coach.”<

Publication date: 15 June 2011