In an exciting ‘first’ in the history of the Special Olympics, sailors with an intellectual disability can now demonstrate their skill and talent at the highest level as they compete for gold at the Special Olympics 2010 Australia National Games.
Over 900 athletes with an intellectual disability will travel to South Australia for a week of competition, social activities and general fellowship from April 19 – 24, 2010. While in Adelaide, they’ll compete in a total of twelve sports including; athletics; basketball; bocce; cricket; golf; gymnastics; sailing; soccer; softball; swimming; tennis; equestrian and tenpin bowling at a variety of venues across the city.
‘Sailing is a permanent fixture for the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics however, up until now, athletes with an intellectual disability have been unable to compete in their sport within the Special Olympics Australia program’, comments Jenny Daly, Games Director. ‘These Games are unique in many ways and we are looking forward to welcoming the sailing teams from across Australia to participate in this prestigious event.’
The Adelaide Sailing Club is hosting the heats which will take place off West Beach. In what will be a challenging task, athletes will compete over a gruelling three days. The battle begins at 10am on Tuesday April 20 and competitors will race for three days in up to 2-hour blocks, finishing at 6pm on Thursday April 22. The medal ceremony will be held on Friday morning.
As well as chasing gold at this event, athletes are also competing for the opportunity to represent Australia at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games being held in Athens, Greece.
One eager competitor is Andrew Waller, 25, from Aberfoyle Park, South Australia. No stranger to the Special Olympics, Andrew has swum in previous games but was keen for the opportunity to try something new. “I was shocked and excited when I was told I was selected”, said Andrew, “I just don’t know what to expect!”
Andrew will be representing South Australia, along with another two intellectually disabled sailors. They will be competing against teams from NSW, Vic, Qld, ACT, WA & Tas.