Michelle Obama 180US first lady Michelle Obama has welcomed thousands of athletes with learning disabilities to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

Joined by special ambassadors including Olympic athletes Michael Phelps and Greg Louganis, Obama welcomed more than 6,500 athletes from 165 countries.

She told the competitors in the Los Angeles Colliseum: "My husband and I are so incredibly proud of you, and we love you all from the bottom of our hearts.”

The Special Olympic World Games were invented by former US president John F Kennedy's sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in 1968 and take place in either winter or summer format every 2 years. For this running of the event the athletes will participate in 25 sports over 9 days ranging from weightlifting to triathlon with America entering the largest team of more than 400 athletes.

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On day 1 of the competition [27 July], there was glory for Ireland as swimmers Sarah Jane Johnston, Sean Coleman and Gary McEnroe as they won the country's first three medals.

Jane-Johnston claimed a 100m backstroke bronze while Coleman and McEnroe picked up the silver and bronze respectively in the 25m backstroke in the aquatics arena at University of South California.

Special Olympics Ulster regional director Shaun Cassidy said he was "thrilled" with Ireland's success so early in the competition.

"Our congratulations go to all our athletes and particularly those who recorded the first medals for the team,” he said. “The excitement from Team Ireland volunteers, families and supporters is being felt at home and abroad, with a great buzz on social media."

Follow proceedings at the Games with #LA2015 on Twitter or at www.la2015.org