By Cassidy H. Girl Reporter
The Special Olympics World Summer Games is an opportunity for athletes with intellectual disabilities to compete to be champions in their selected field. It is also the, “world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries.”
The Special Olympics World Games are held every two years, and this year the city of Los Angeles was privileged to host. The games were held July 25 through August 2, 2015. On July 27, I attended the games as a Fan in the Stands volunteer, which is a great opportunity to get involved and support the athletes during competition. One of these competitions was Women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics, where the athletes do routines that combine elements of ballet, gymnastics, and apparatus manipulation (equipment like hoops and ribbons) with music. There were a lot of athletes who participated, and many countries had athletes who won, including the USA, Russia, Salas, Peru, Panama, Canada, and Bolivia.
Great Britain won first place for the Division A Group Ball, while Team USA won first place for the Division B Group Ball. The best Rhythmic All-Around gymnast was Svetlana B. Lebedeva of Russian.
Before and after the event, my group explored the many sponsor booths featuring companies like ESPN, Coke, and UPS. We also had the opportunity to talk to many people, including Special Olympic judges. One of these individuals was Mayor Barbra Wallace of Washington Township, New Jersey, a judge for this year’s Women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics and a Girl Scout of 60 years! This was Mayor Wallace’s fifth World Game, and she said, “the hardest part of being a judge is being impartial.”
We also met Eugenia and Valeria, two athletes from Puerto Rico participating in the rhythmic gymnastics.
Mr. Jeremy Eddon, a judge for Artistic Gymnastics and Vault, is a retired teacher from England. He flew 11 hours to attend the games and serve as a judge. A veteran of the Special Olympics, he also judged for the 2003 games in Dubai, 2007 games in Shanghai, and 2011 games in Athens. This was Mr. Eddon’s first visit to the United States. He noted that it was very hot, but he thinks that, “America is a great country.”
More than 6,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 165 countries competed this year in Los Angeles.
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