Let the Games begin
Australia’s largest ever Special Olympics team has joined more than 7500 competitors from 185 countries for the opening ceremony of the 13th World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas marched with the 131-member Australian team, along with 40 team officials, to celebrate the opening of the ten day event.
“It was a great thrill for the team to enter the stadium and soak up the incredible atmosphere,” Senator McLucas said.
“Aussie supporters are in big numbers here which only made the opening ceremony even more special for the athletes, knowing their country is right behind them.”
“It makes you very proud to see the hundreds of families, friends and fans in Athens showing their support for our team.”
The Special Olympics World Summer Games are an opportunity for people with intellectual disability to overcome prejudice and stereotypes and showcase their remarkable athletic abilities.
“The Special Olympics is a celebration of ability,” Senator McLucas said.
“Our athletes are proving on the world stage that disability is no barrier to achieving.”
The Games are an opportunity for our athletes to compete on the world stage in aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, football, golf, gymnastics, sailing, softball and tennis.
The Australian team’s eldest competitor is aged 58 and the youngest just 16 years old.
“The mateship amongst the team is fantastic. All athletes have worked hard to be part of the Games and they are proving to be wonderful ambassadors for our country.”
During the Games, Senator McLucas will also be attending the Global Research and Policy Symposium on Intellectual Disability which brings together international researchers, students and policy makers in the fields of intellectual disability, education and health.
In addition, Senator McLucas will participate in a number of bilateral meetings to discuss Australia’s National Disability Strategy, disability insurance schemes and workforce participation measures.
The Gillard Government is committed to increasing participation in Special Olympic sports, recently announcing an additional $100,000 to the Special Olympics in ongoing annual funding.
The additional funding brings the support the Gillard Government provides to the Special Olympics to over $500,000 a year.
To follow the progress of our athletes or send them a herogram visit: www.specialolympics.com.au.