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1200 Athletes Compete In Largest Multi-Sport Event

28 November 2005

1200 Athletes Compete In Largest Multi-Sport Event This Week

More than 1200 athletes, 450 coaches and some 600 volunteers will come to Christchurch this week for New Zealand’s largest multi sport event – the 2005 Special Olympics New Zealand National and Asia Pacific Invitation Games.

Special Olympians from New Zealand will be competing with their equals from Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia in 11 competition sports including bocce (Italian petanque), basketball, gymnastics, tenpin bowling, golf, indoor bowling, power lifting, soccer, equestrian, swimming and athletics. In addition, there will also be three demonstration sports – badminton, cycling and table tennis – which may be introduced to Special Olympics in the future.

Event organisers will also be offering the internationally acclaimed Healthy Athletes programme which provides complimentary health services for athletes in the following areas:

- Opening Eyes – free eye checks for athletes and fitting of glasses if required
- Special Smiles – dental checks for athletes
- Healthy Hearing – hearing testing
- Fit Feet - podiatry

The Healthy Athletes project is a huge commitment both financially and in physical labour – many health professionals (all volunteers) from around the country will be flown to Christchurch to participate in the programme.

National Games director, Grant Quinn, says that these are the biggest Special Olympics National Games ever to be held in New Zealand and also one of the biggest events to be hosted by Christchurch city this year. He is hopeful it will attract thousands of spectators to the individual events and engender ongoing community support for the Special Olympians in Christchurch and in towns and cities throughout New Zealand.

“The Games will open people’s eyes to our athletes’ abilities, determination and sportsmanship, and show how New Zealand Special Olympians are amongst the finest calibre in worldwide Special Olympics events. We are looking forward to the games next week which are also qualify games for the 2007 International Summer Games to be held in Shanghai,” says Mr Quinn.

Special Olympics Special Ambassador Jonah Lomu adds his support message for Special Olympians as the National Games draw close.

“I am proud to be associated with the Special Olympics. Emphasis is placed on competing not winning. Finishing and doing your best is the important thing; everyone is a winner. I’m here to inspire the athletes and instead I get inspired. I offer my best wishes to all the athletes who will be attending their games in Christchurch,” he says.

The Games will begin with an opening ceremony on Wed 30th November, hosted by MCs Keith Quinn and Keith de Dulin in the Westpac Centre. The event will culminate in a closing ceremony on Saturday 3rd December 2005.

Special Olympics is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is proudly supported by major sponsor - SKYCITY Auckland. SKYCITY has been the major supporter of Special Olympics New Zealand for close to 10 years and has sent all New Zealand athletes competing in the National Games a good luck postcard and items to be included in the athletes packs including a cap and thunder-stick to help cheer on their fellow Special Olympians.


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