Special Olympics kick off in Adelaide

Published: 16 April 2018

special olympics

The Special Olympics have kicked off today, as 1,100 athletes from around the country have descended on Adelaide to compete in eleven sports.

The athletes, who have intellectual disabilities, will compete in athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, sailing, swimming and tennis events.

All states and territories will be represented at the Games, as they go head-to-head for bragging rights over five days of fierce competition.

Most athletes have fundraised in order to participate in the Games, and were given a head started by sponsors Australia Post, who donated $100 to each athlete.

Australia Post General Manager of Marketing and Community Andrea Pearman said the organisation valued sport as a “powerful tool” for building connections.

“Australia Post is committed to contributing to more inclusive communities, where everyone feels they belong, are valued and respected, regardless of background or ability. The Special Olympics is a wonderful opportunity to bring these individuals and communities together,” she said.

Athletes and teams were welcomed by the South Australian Police Force and Armed Forces at Government House, which saw the end of the journey for the Torch of Hope, which has been carried to all corners of the country by law enforcement agencies and athletes competing at the Games.

Speaking at the Ceremony, Corene Strauss, CEO of Special Olympics Australia, said the Games were like a “human rights movement” for those living with intellectual disabilities.

“For people who face injustice, inequality, exclusion on a daily basis, we use sport to change the conversation, to change the game, to build an inclusive world,” she said.

“We use sport to build self-confidence in our athletes, and to build self-esteem.

“But we also use sport to break down the barriers, and so what an amazing movement, we are the inclusion revolution.”

South Australian Athletics competitor, Lachlan Woollett, who is a Special Olympics Ambassador, said the Games had made a “remarkable difference” to his life.

“Learning the difference skills and the entertainment of rivalry on the field, to have had the opportunity to compete in the sport that I love,” he said.

“I’ve met many people in my role as Ambassador, and am excited about making more friends Australia-wide in the upcoming Games.

“Special Olympics is about building confidence. Through the Athlete Leadership Program, many athletes find they possess talents they were previously unaware of.

“They can find it as their chosen path, and are helped and encouraged to be the best they can be.”

The Special Olympics will run from the 16th to the 20th of April, and events will take place at venues all across Adelaide.