Special Olympics World Games

Alternating between summer and winter, the World Games have become the flagship event of the Special Olympics movement. This year, it kicked off June 17 and continues through the 25th. Host city Berlin has welcomed some 7,000 Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners from approximately 190 countries to compete in 26 sports.

Special Olympics sports competitions are based on the idea that athletes of all abilities should be given an equal chance of succeeding, whether it is a personal best or a gold medal. It calls this competition-level matching “divisioning.” It’s a fundamental rule at Special Olympics that athletes in competitions are matched up with others of the same gender, about the same age and most importantly, of about the same competitive ability.

But enough of that, I’ve got some highlights!

Let’s start things off with the opening ceremony, which included President Biden’s Presidential Delegation, led by Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

Next up, go to The Atlantic for some eye-popping photos that show off the power and skills needed for the games, as well as some just really freakin’ happy people who have worked hard to become superior athletes.

I recommend you read about the athletes as well. The Special Olympics website has a section of incredibly moving stories, such as one featuring Li Xiang, a gymnast with Down Syndrome who had more than the usual challenges. For decades in China, the site writes, “the words for people with disabilities included a slur: ascanfei ren, literally ‘disabled garbage people.'”

He overcame that and much more, first attending the World Games at age 11. In 2015, Li won a gold medal, two silver and two bronze medals.

And let’s hear it for the Boomer. Chief Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne is a 69-year-old runner: Meet the inspiring US athletes in Berlin for the Special Olympics World Games (goodmorningamerica.com)

And now, cheers to the U.S. medalists! (Partial list):

East Greenwich, R.I., bocce player wins silver medal in Special Olympics World Games (turnto10.com)

Mitchell Betsworth shines at the Special Olympics World Games, earns 4 medals (ktiv.com)

Dockins claims All-Around Gold at Special Olympics World Summer Games (wbko.com)

Charlotte athlete stands out at Special Olympics World Games (thecharlotteweekly.com)

Georgia duo wins silver at 2023 Special Olympics World Games (Fox5atlanta.com)

Bluffton woman wins big in Berlin: Kayaker earns gold medal at Special Olympics World Games (wjcl.com)

Palmer Special Olympics athlete places 4th in World Summer Games in Berlin (frontiersman.com)

Photo: PowerShelter via The Special Olympics

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