The Special Olympics is an ultimate event for intellectually challenged individuals for encouraging their sporting capabilities. This sporting initiative is held once every two years. There are several interesting facts features that can be highlighted here.
This biggest sporting competition for such individuals was held in Los Angeles from July 25th to August 2nd 2015, California (The largest event in LA since the 1984 Olympic Games). The games were the brainchild of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of former US President John F Kennedy and mother of journalist and activist Maria Shriver. Sighting the physical capabilities of her differently abled sister Rosemary, Eunice saw sports as a common platform for uniting people from all walks of life. She had a vision of creating space where intellectually challenged people could participate and compete by giving them an opportunity to showcase their talents.
The first ever Special Olympics were held at Chicago, Illinois, in June 1968. Over 1,000 athletes participated in swimming and track and field events. Now, nearly half a century later, literally it has transcended into a movement which transforms and empowers lives.
Here are 10 interesting points related to this sporting initiative:-
- Olympics and Special Olympics
Special Olympics is the only organization in the world that has been authorized by International Olympic Committee (IOC) to use the word “Olympics” in its name in all over the world.
- The Games
Athletes participating in the games compete in 32 disciplines that include judo, snowboarding, football, cricket and others.
- Keeping them healthy and fit
Healthy Athletes is its program that offers more than 1.4 million free health checkups to athletes from 180 countries during the competition. Health professionals, specially trained for checking intellectually challenged athletes, conduct exhaustive examinations in multiple categories like physical therapy, podiatry, vision, audiology, dentistry and others.
- Global Reach
More than three million athletes from 180 countries participated and nearly 3.1 million differently abled athletes from all the affiliated countries participated till now.
- Team spirit
Participation in a team sport has shown to build a sense of camaraderie among the athletes. It brings a team spirit among athletes while playing in a team. It forges team spirit among the participants.
- Celebrity supporters
Over the years, several celebrity supporters have endorsed and encouraged initiatives focused on differently abled individuals including multiple Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, basketball sensation Damian Lillard, actor Brooklyn Decker and others. The celebrities represent and spread the message of the organizations hoisting events. They help in building awareness about the needs of such ingenuities.
- Athletic prowess
Participating athletes in the games are divided according to age, gender and abilities.
- Words for inspiration
The oath phrase for athletes in the Special Olympics is: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
- Competition Time
This World Game is held every two years. The games are alternated between winter and summer.
- Getting involved
Both, the organizers and the IOC invite general public to volunteer in this grand sporting event. Over 7,00,000 people volunteers have been registered till now.