Special Olympics New Zealand team heads away

Press Release – Special Olympics NZ

Special Olympics New Zealand team heads away to 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens.
Special Olympics New Zealand team heads away to 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens.
The Rugby World Cup may be the only sporting event that matters for many New Zealanders in 2011, but the biggest sporting event in the world this year is the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens.

From June 25 to July 4, over 7,500 Special Olympics athletes from 185 countries will compete in 22 sports.

New Zealand will be represented by 35 athletes competing in athletics, aquatics, basketball, bowling, equestrian, golf and power lifting.

The athletes and the 17-strong support team leave for Athens this Tuesday, June 14 after a farewell function in Auckland for family, friends and supporters.

Kathy Gibson, the Chief Executive Officer for Special Olympics New Zealand, says it’s the culmination of two years of hard work since the Athens games were announced in 2009.
“The World Summer Games is the pinnacle event for our athletes and they’ve all trained extremely hard to achieve personal bests in their chosen sports. Our athletes were selected in October last year and since then they’ve been engaged in rigorous training programmes and are regularly monitored to ensure they peak in Athens.”

While Greece may be in economic turmoil at the moment, the political situation isn’t expected to impact on the Games. One factor the New Zealand athletes will have to cope with is the heat, with the average temperature in Greece expected to be over 30 degrees. The facilities will be the same used for the Olympic Games in 2004

This year’s Games assume a special significance as they are the first to be held since the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics movement in 1968.

Today the Special Olympics is a global movement that offers 3.1 million athletes with intellectual disabilities from 185 countries, the opportunity to reinforce their self-esteem, to discover their special abilities and to become active and useful members of their societies.

In a tribute to Kennedy Shriver after her death in 2009, President Barrack Obama said, “Special Olympics, as a champion for people with intellectual disabilities, teaches our nation – and our world – that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit.”

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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