FACT: The Special Olympics was founded by the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, mother of former California First Lady Maria Shriver, in 1968. “She believed people with intellectual disabilities could change the world if given the proper stage," wrote Scott Gleason in USAToday.
It’s not often that world class sports competition comes to your home town. . .for nine days, and for free! But if you happen to be in the L.A. area from July 25-August 2, you’re in luck. Here’s a taste of what has happened this week during the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.
First Lady Michelle Obama opened the three-hour ceremony, held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and broadcasted on ESPN, by welcoming thousands of athletes. There were fireworks and musical performances by Stevie Wonder, Avril Lavigne and Nicole Scherzinger among others.
Stevie Wonder Performs
Musical legend Stevie Wonder performed “Fear Can’t Put My Dreams to Sleep.” Before the song, he offered athletes words of encouragement and love, stating that they are “the ones who will make a difference every single day (with) your courage, your desire to make the world better.”
Dellas Wins Triathlon
Team USA’s Noah Dellas lets out a rare smile as he poses with the American flag after winning the gold medal in the Special Olympics World Games Triathlon, July 26, 2015, in Long Beach, CA.
Jamaica claimed two gold medals in track and field when Monique Johnson and Dillion Robinson were first-place finishers in 400 meter run and 400 metre walk, respectively, at the University of Southern California campus track on July 29. In this July 25, 2015 file photo, the Special Olympics Jamaican delegation enters the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the parade of teams at the opening ceremony. Inglewood was the host town for the 91-member delegation in the week prior to the Games.
No Limits for Davis
Proving that the Special Olympics is indeed one of the most inclusive organizations around, 72-year-old Mary Davis of Midlothian, VA, won gold in the team bocce ball event. She has lost several fingers in an accident and is the oldest Team USA competitor at this year’s Special Olympic Games.
Not Just for the Guys…
Russia’s Tatiana Savchenko walked away with four gold medals around her neck for powerlifting. Competing July 27 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Savchenko took first in the bench press (50 kilograms), the squat left (70 kg), the dead lift (92.5 kg) and the triple combination (212.5 kg), which was 82.5 more kilograms than her closest competitor.
Have you gone yet? The 9-day sports marathon features competition in 25 different categories at venues throughout the Los Angeles area, including UCLA, USA, Griffith Park, Los Angeles Convention Center, and the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
Games are free to the public. The closing ceremony will take place on Sunday, August 2 from at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. For more information, visit www.la2015.org.