Special Olympics World Games 2023 Berlin have just come to an end, completing nine days of competition across 26 sporting codes. The Special Olympics World Games are the world’s largest inclusive sporting event, a celebration promoting more recognition and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics is a worldwide organisation that supports five million athletes, coaches and volunteers across 32 Olympic-type sports. Their aim is to improve the health and well being of people with intellectual disabilities, encouraging local and international year round sports training and athletic competitions.
First held on 20 July, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois with 1000 participants from the United States and Canada, it has now grown to over 7000 athletes. Every two years the Special Olympics World Games is held and alternates between summer and winter games, similar to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
For the first time athletes from the Oceania region competed in badminton. Both Special Olympics Papua New Guinea and Special Olympics Fiji were represented by one male and one female athlete, each playing their respective men’s and women’s singles event, and combining in the mixed doubles competition.
The coaches who are supporting the athletes from the Pacific are all qualified Shuttle Time teachers. Kasilia V Tagaci and Nischal Karan are also teachers in special schools in Fiji and have been supporting students to play badminton for several years.
John Ma’a is a volunteer with Special Olympics Papua New Guinea, and along with athletes Emmanuel Sevara and Martha Ahwong has been preparing for competition by training with the Inclusive GymBad program. Inclusive GymBad is part of Team Up – the Australian Government’s sport for development program in the Asia-Pacific, which is a combination activity (badminton and gymnastics) that aims to remove and reduce barriers experienced by people with a disability, particularly women and girls.
Emmanuel’s two wishes in life were to fly on a plane, and travel overseas. He has accomplished both in attending Special Olympics World Games in Germany – and more having met and competed against athletes from as far afield as Bulgaria, Palestine, Iran, Czech Republic, and China. To come away with a medal is icing on the cake.
|Name of Athlete
Martha Ahwong (WS 5, MXD 1)
Emmanuel Sevara (MS 1, MXD 1)
MXD 1 – Silver medal
WS 5 – Bronze medal
MS 1 – 4th Place
Maria Teresia (WS 3, MXD 2)
Samu Vuetasau (MS 1, MXD 2)
MXD 2 – 4th Place
WS 3 – Silver medal