“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part;
the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”
~ Pierre de Coubertin, founder of modern Olympic Games
In this site, these are the articles surrounding the Olympics:
Obtained from http://photobucket.com/images/the%20special%20olympics/?page=14
Over the past 700 years, the Olympics have vastly transformed. One change was the addition of the Special Olympics. This has helped to include people who could not fairly compete in the Olympics, not because their talent is lacking but because of their mental retardation. This phase is not meant to be an insult; it is meant to explain their state of mind. Men and women with mental retardation have either been born with it or developed it in their early childhood. Though they may learn more laggard than some, this is not a disease, physical problem, or mental illness that needs therapy and curing. It is a disability that affects the way the people work, play, and act in their everyday lives. Some things may be more difficult than they are for your average person, such as possible problems living by themselves or communicating with other people. It may also affect their math, reading, and even physical skills. More than 170 million people in the world are affected by mental retardation, each as different and unique as the rest of us. Many times you will not even realize if you meet a person with this disability—they are people living just as we do. They are your family, your friends, or maybe just that lady you saw in the supermarket. What I am trying to say is that they are as human as the rest of them, so why should they not be able to compete in something other athletes are able to compete in? They should have as many opportunities as the rest of us! So it is a truly great thing that the Special Olympics have been made. Every person deserves a chance to excel and that should not be stopped by a mental disability.
This version of the Olympics was created by Eunice Kennedy. She was the sister of JFK and wanted a better life for the mentally retarded, very possibly because one of her sisters had this disability. In 1968 she organized the first International Special Olympics Summer Games, held in Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois. There was a total of 1000 athletes there and ready to compete, but only three events: athletics, floor hockey, and aquatics. But once this idea had emerged, it continued to grow. The number of people competing has grown immensely, as has the number of events. Today, there are approximately a million athletes competing from 160 countries in 24 different sports. There are seven winter sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and speed skating; and 16 summer sports: aquatics, bocce, soccer, roller skating, athletics, bowling, golf, badmitten, cycling, gymnastics, sailing, softball, basketball, equestrian, power lifting, and table tennis. As you can see, the Special Olympics have grown quickly, and will continue to grow.
Special Olympic competitors train as hard as any regular Olympic competitor. They train eight weeks per year and all of their workouts are watched by their trainers and coaches. Both in training and in competition, the athletes are divided into groups based on their ages, abilities, and gender. There is normally between three and eight competitors in each division, and there is a winner in each section. First place wins either a gold medal or a blue ribbon; second is a silver medal or a white ribbon; and third is either a bronze medal or a yellow ribbon. Everyone, whether they won or lost, gets a ribbon at the end. The winners of these local competitions advance to regional, than state, national, and finally worldwide competition. But, sometimes it is hard for them to decide which men and women do go to the next level and which do not. In an attempt to help this, many states or even countries have “lotteries” where they will draw the name of the gold medalist who will move onto the next competition. This means, unfortunately, that not all of the gold medal champions will move on to the Special Olympics. But, the ones who do have the fabulous opportunity to compete in and win it! Mark Barber is an example of one of these people. He is a speed skater who has won 60 gold medals! He also competed in the 2001 Olympics, in the 777-meter, the 1000-meter, and the 1500-meter. Another important gold medalist is Christopher Vance. He helped to bring snowboarding into the Special Olympics and has been participating since 1987, winning the World Winter Games three times!
As you can now see, people suffering from mental retardation are every bit as talented as those who are “normal”. They have their own Olympics and it is just as important as the Olympics that are going to be held in Beijing this year. People who are “special” should have this and now, plaudits to people such as Eunice Kennedy, they do. Long live the Special Olympics!
Cantone, Julia. "General Olympic FAQ." US Olympic Team. 7 Oct 2003. USOC. 27 Feb 2008 <http://www.usoc.org/11937.htm>.
Infoplease. "Olympic Locations Throughout The Years." Teachervision. 2000. Pearson Education Inc.. 8 Feb 2008 <http://www.teachervision.fen.com/olympic-games/history/2259.html>.
IPC. "Paralympic Games." International Paralympic Committee. 2008. International Paralympic Committee. 12 Feb 2008 <http://www.paralympic.org/release/Main_Sections_Menu/Paralympic_Games/>.>
IPC. "Paralympic Games." Official Website of the Olympic Movement. 2008. IOC. 16 Feb 2008 <http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/paralympic/index_uk.asp>.
Kennedy, Mike. Special Olympics. United States of America: Children's Press, 2002.\
Last modified: 04/02/08