Paralympics sprint gold medalist Jason Smyth made his para-athletics debut at the Vision Sports MayFest in 2005. The event will take place this year in a virtual format. Photo: Sportsfile

Jason Smyth leads Vision Sports Ireland 40th MayFest celebrations

Vision Sports Ireland and NCBI is celebrating 40 years of Vision Sports MayFest over the next week (May 1 to 7). This virtual sports event will see over 500 children and adults, many of whom are blind and vision impaired, taking part in a range of home-based physical activities.

Jason Smyth, the five-time Paralympics sprint gold medallist who made his para-athletics debut at MayFest in 2005, recalls: “MayFest at ALSAA near Dublin Airport gave me my entry into para sport. Vision Sports has continuously encouraged and supported me as an athlete. I’m delighted MayFest can continue and help young, and not so young, enjoy the health benefits of exercise.”

Jason will be keynote speaker at the closing ceremony of the virtual 40th anniversary MayFest. The closing event will be hosted by Miriam O’Callaghan with Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy and Vision Sports president Michael O’Keeffe.

The first MayFest was held on May 2, 1981, with athletics and swim championships. Since then, various sports have been added, including football, tandem cycling, golf, walking, judo, paratriathlon, parkrun, yoga and tug of war. In 2016, President Michael D. Higgins opened MayFest and launched blind tennis there.

Aaron Mullaniff, head of Vision Sports, said: “For over 40 years MayFest has been a springboard into sport for thousands of blind and vision impaired people. However, Covid-19 has seriously affected our members, with 75% reported being unable to meet national recommended guidelines on physical activity and an alarming 90% reporting their physical activity had been severely limited largely due to the physical and social distancing guidelines restricting the use of guides/pilots for exercise.

“We are so fortunate to have MayFest, even if it must be done home-based this year.”

The 2021 MayFest virtual offering includes family dance, general fitness, nature mindfulness, over 50s movement, nutrition (with Safefood Ireland), turbo training (with Triathlon Ireland), teen fitness, yoga and tennis (with Tennis Ireland and Sight and Sound Technology). Also included is a 40k for 40 years walk, run and cycle challenge, as well as a parkrun Ireland MayFest (not)parkrun offering.

To attend the virtual Vision Sports Ireland 40th anniversary MayFest, pre-register at www.visionsports.ie.

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