The Special Olympics World Games is the world’s largest inclusive sporting event.
In June of this year, 64 exceptional Australian athletes proudly represented Team Australia in a remarkable showdown against 7000 inspiring competitors from across the globe, all of whom had intellectual disabilities or autism. Throughout the nine-day event, these athletes showcased their extraordinary skills, unwavering determination, and exemplary sportsmanship.
The grand stage for this incredible display of talent and spirit was the 2023 Special Olympics World Games held in Berlin. Team Australia’s performance was nothing short of awe-inspiring as they concluded the games with an impressive haul of 59 medals. Among these remarkable achievements were 15 gold medals, 21 silver medals, and 23 bronze medals.
Of the 26 sporting events held throughout the Special Olympics, Team Australia competed in nine including- athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, golf, gymnastics, swimming, tennis.
Pierre Comis, CEO of Special Olympics Australia spoke about Team Australia’s performance at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin saying, “It has been truly remarkable to witness our team’s achievements over the past nine days. The years of preparation for our athletes paid off and I can’t wait for them to return home and celebrate their victories with their families, friends and local Special Olympics club members.”
The Special Olympics World Games is the world’s largest inclusive sporting event, and while the 2023 event has now concluded, athletes around the world will soon begin to prepare for the next that is set to take place in four years in 2027.
“Sport provides a fantastic opportunity for individuals living with intellectual disability or autism to feel a sense of personal achievement, pride, and inclusion. This was clear at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin where we had the privilege of competing in many sports with over 7000 athletes with intellectual disability from over 190 nations, and we look forward to seeing many more aspiring athletes strive to be a part of Team Australia in 2027,” added Pierre.
It all began…
The Special Olympics began in Australia in 1976 when many people with an intellectual disability were shut in institutions. It is hard to imagine and while this is no longer the norm in Australia, Special Olympics continue to seek public support to ensure that people with an intellectual disability are not shut out.
By helping Special Olympics give opportunities to play sport, together we can open the door to personal achievement, pride and inclusion for some of the marginalised and isolated members of our community.
For more information on Team Australia, visit: specialolympics.com.au
ATHLETE Q&A – Elizabeth, 22
Can you please tell us avbit more about yourself – sports you play, what age you first started?
Swimming – I learnt to swim from age of 2 and I’ve always loved playing in the pool at home. I started swimming training with Wendy at Guardian Angels at age 11.
I also love gymnastics – started at PCYC doing a class around the age of 8. Now doing 3 classes a week at SPC and still loving it!
What else do you like to do apart from all your sport!
I love attending the Latch On Program through DSQ and catching up with my friends and learning new things.
We hear you won big at the Special Olympics! Congratulations, what sport did you compete in?
I competed for Australia in Gymnastics at the World Special Olympics Games in Berlin in June. I love competing and meeting some new people. I did vault, floor, bars and beam.
What advice do you have for other kids/teens that may like to have a goal of playing sport and reaching the Special Olympics one day? Do it! Sport is great it keeps you fit and healthy and you meet lots of people. If you love your sport the training won’t be that hard. I train for swimming 6 sessions a week and I do 5 hours of gymnastics a week, as well as 1 hour with my personal trainer, Kody.