Special Olympians to do Australia proud in Athens
Athletes and volunteers participating in the Special Olympics World Summer Games today left for Athens in their search for Olympic glory.
Joining the athletes at Sydney Airport, Minister for Sport Mark Arbib wished the 130 competitors and 40 volunteers the best of luck and said they were already winners in the eyes of Australians.
“The Special Olympics World Summer Games is one of the biggest international sporting events this year. Australia’s athletes will compete against 7,500 athletes from 185 countries,” Senator Arbib said.
“Our athletes will take part in 11 sports, including aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, football, golf, gymnastics, sailing, softball and tennis.
“In 2007 Australia returned home with 126 medals, but they were not the only winners. The Special Olympics celebrate all those who participate. I am extremely proud to farewell our athletes as they leave for Athens.”
Senator Arbib said the Gillard Government was committed to increasing participation in Special Olympic sports and announced that the Government would provide an additional $100,000 to the Special Olympics in ongoing annual funding.
“This money will provide support to increase participation and the number of volunteers involved in sport for people with intellectual disabilities,” Senator Arbib said.
“This additional funding brings the support the Gillard Government provides to the Special Olympics to over $500,000 a year.
“It ensures that volunteers and people with intellectual disabilities will be able to have fun, be active through sport and break down social, cultural and physical barriers.
Senator McLucas, who will be supporting the athletes in Athens, wished the Australian athletes well.
“I join with the rest of Australia and wish our athletes the very best of luck for this incredible occasion that they’ve trained so hard to reach,” Senator McLucas said.
“They are amazing athletes who prove that disability is no barrier to achieving.
“We all look forward to watching our team showcase their exceptional talent, commitment and drive on the world stage.”
Special Olympics Australia is a not-for-profit organisation which supports around 4000 athletes in over 250 sports clubs across Australia.
Special Olympics Australia Chair Mark Streeting also spoke at the farewell, welcoming the Government’s commitment to disabled athletes and volunteers.
“We are thrilled with the ongoing support of the Australian Government,” Mr Streeting said.
“This extra support will enable us to grow our organisation and supply our tireless volunteers with the support they need to grow participation at a grassroots level.”