Ready, Get Set, Go!
Los Angeles will be playing host to the Special Olympics World Games from 25 July till 2 August. Michelle Obama opened the event on Saturday evening at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. There will be more than 6500 participants from 165 nations. This edition of the games is extra-special because it is returning to the U.S.A after 16 years.
Special Olympics: Origins
Originating in the 1960s, the Special Olympics provides a platform to people with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports and discover new skills and strengths. The aim is to promote, through sports, the inclusion and acceptance of people with such disabilities. Only those above 8 years of age, identified as having one or more conditions like learning disorders or cognitive delays are eligible.
Eunice Shriver, the driving force behind the revolutionary Special Olympics, believed in sports as a way of bringing about change in the lives of the intellectually disabled. Her first effort was a sports camp in her backyard in the 1960s. This translated into the first Special Olympics on 20 July 1968, at Soldier Field, Chicago. There were 1000 participants from USA and Canada.
Being Special Olympics
The games have traditionally had both individual events like aquatics, track, as well as a large number of team sports like soccer and basketball. Since the first World Games, patrons can watch for free and athletes do not carry flags. All participants are given ribbons; the top three finishers get medals. These games are more about inclusion, participation and joy rather than competition.
Special Olympics finally gets recognition
In 1971, Special Olympics became one of the two organisations in USA to be approved to use the name Olympics. In 1988, Shriver's efforts finally paid off when the International Olympics Committee agreed to officially endorse the Special Olympics. From then onwards, Special Olympics and the World Games have grown stronger, becoming a global movement.
What will they be playing?
Since its inception, Special Olympics has been trying to bring about a change in how the disabled value themselves, through sports. At the 2015 Games, the participants will be engaging in 25 different Olympic sports. There will be track, aquatics, football, softball, golf, equestrian, judo, gymnastics, handball, kayaking, sailing, tennis of both types and roller skating among the large variety.
Google joins forces
For an event like the Special Olympics World Games, enthusiasm and popularity is very important. And Google's risen to the occasion with a Google Doodle celebrating the start of the 14th Games this year, showing athletes at their various sports.
Returning with a bang!
This edition of the World Games is touted to be the biggest sporting event in the USA this year. Even better, it is supposed to be the biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics.