With 6,500 athletes and 2,000 coaches representing 165 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games—being staged in Los Angeles this summer—will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015, and the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.
Inglewood’s nickname—“City of Champions”—is a fitting moniker for its role as a host town for the Special Olympics World Games this summer. The title was born during the 1932 Olympics. It was sustained throughout the years with championship horse racing at the iconic Hollywood Park Racetrack and championship basketball with the “Showtime LA Lakers” who played at what is now the revitalized Fabulous Forum. As many as 100 cities will serve as host towns supporting the Games.
As the 2015 Torch Run began at Grace and Prairie Avenue, final leg athletes shared the torch in international camaraderie, shouting out each participant’s hometown, which stretched from California to Taiwan.
Runners made their way down Prairie Ave. and into the Fabulous Forum where they were welcomed by a sea of spectators. Mayor James Butts and Chief Mark Fronterotta were gifted with gold coins as a token of appreciation.
Stephanie Lindsey, one of the final leg participants, and Jamaican Superintendent of Police, said “It’s an honor to be selected to be part of this group of wonderful law enforcement officers, and Olympians from right around the world, who are participating in this final leg run. Today we have 87 persons from Jamaica, coming here, we have 37 athletes, 13 coaches, and two officials that are travelling to compete. I’m looking forward to the competition, It’s such a sense of pride.”
The welcoming ceremony commenced at 11am hosted by renowned sports broadcaster and friend of Inglewood, Jim Hill who stated, “This is absolutely wonderful, to be able to participate in what many people are admiring, not just in the United States, but around the world, to have all the athletes, and to see the city really light up, is really a wonderful feeling.”
NBA superstar, newly signed Los Angeles Clipper, and Inglewood native, Paul Pierce said, “I’m happy to be back in the City of Inglewood, I want to thank Mayor Butts for giving me the opportunity to be part of this. I’ve been on the east coast playing basketball, I’ve had a lot of efforts to give back to the City of Inglewood through videotape, and Twitter but now, to actually be here, and have my presence here for the rest of my career, I’m truly thankful for that.”
The City also took the time to honor several other Inglewood natives, former NBA player Reggie Theus, Olympian honorees Althea Mosely and Marilyn White, Coach Patrick Roy and Coach Clemente Gonzales, both of Inglewood High School.
Mayor Butts radiated with pride as he welcomed Team Jamaica to Inglewood. “Over the last few years, we’ve really been expanding and resurrecting not only our image, but our substance. We feel this is another logical progression when the Special Olympics feels that Inglewood would be a great host city. This is a great step forward as we branch out into not only the national community, but the international community.”
The 2015 Special Olympics Games kicks off Saturday July 25th at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Over the next few days, Inglewood will host Team Jamaica and treat them to various activities including a “Day In LA Tour” where they will visit various iconic landmarks and restaurants, including the Santa Monica Pier.
Pride electrified the air as the Jamaican National team were showered with love from all the volunteers, dignitaries, and community members who came out to show their love and support for our sister city. We wish Team Jamaica much success as they move on to take their place in Olympic glory. Inglewood loves you.