Help us make a difference!

Anca's Winning Shot

July 01, 2011

Anca Chirita’s journey to the Special Olympics World Games was a long one.  The 20-year-old Romanian bocce player was abandoned to an institution at the age of 3 and was shifted among various institutions every couple of years after that.

Anca Chirita is pictured with her Special Olympics Romania Bocce teammates.

The 20-year-old Romanian bocce player was abandoned to an institution at the age of three, and was shifted among various institutions every couple of years after that.

Competing at the Games

Anca was introduced to Special Olympics Romania in 2003, when she began participating in athletics. According to Romania’s National Director, Cristian Ispas, she transitioned out of the institution and into a group home for people with disabilities, thanks to the help of Foundation Motivation Romania and the sponsorship of an Irish charity known as Comber Romania, which works to end orphanages in Romania and ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate and be included in society.

At the 2011 Special Olympics World Games, Anca was joined by 46 other athletes from Romania who are competing in bocce, gymnastics, athletics and table tennis, as well as unified football and unified basketball. The bocce team in particular has provided stiff competition to their big rivals from SO Costa Rica.  

The two teams met for the first time in the preliminary round, where Romania won by a single point.  Anca, who is usually assisted by a wheelchair, uses a walking stick when she plays bocce.  After Anca made the winning shot, Costa Rica disputed it on the grounds that her walking stick had interfered with the defense.  The officials overruled the complaint and Romania was declared the winner.

The two teams then advanced to the semi-final round, where they both came out ahead of their opponents.  Thus, the two teams met again for a rematch in the final round, where the competition was neck and neck.  In the final seconds of the game, Anca’s final shot brought Romania the victory!

As her team rushed around her in celebration, Anca was beaming with pride.  As Ispas describes, “Anca’s confidence has improved tremendously since she first started in Special Olympics. At first she would ask ‘how can I play? I am in a wheelchair?’ but now, Anca is Team Romania’s hero. “

Being a Team Player

Ispas also describes her as a “team player.”  She is always thinking about her teammates, and would give anything for them.  And although Anca’s days in the institution are far behind her (she now lives with a family in Bucharest), she never forgets that children like her are still there.

In Romania, institutionalization is far less common than it was two decades ago, thanks to the influence of organizations like Comber Romania and the Motivation Center, where Anca now volunteers.  These organizations have also helped to transform society’s perceptions toward people with disabilities and to create more opportunities for inclusion for people with disabilities.  Special Olympics’  “SO Get Into It” curriculum has been introduced in hundreds of schools in Bucharest and throughout the country; unified football and unified basketball are also growing in popularity.  Over the past three years, the Vodafone Foundation and the European Union have supported unified sports programs in Bucharest schools and communities. 

As Anca returns home a Special Olympics gold medalist, there is no doubt her contagious joy and hope will spread to all who know her and learn of her achievements. And her victory will speak volumes on behalf of her brothers and sisters who still live in the institution.

Special Army Salute

A Special Olympics swimmer served in the Israeli army.
Learn More ››

A Mother's Devotion

Love for her son inspires Russia's Galina Bezrukowa.
Learn More ››

Support Special Olympics

Help us reach one more athlete.


Become a Volunteer

Find out about the many ways you can get involved in the Special Olympics programs nearest you. There are 58 country-level offices in the Europe/Eurasia region.


Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 226 worldwide locations.


Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »

Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »

Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »

Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »

Special Olympics Blog

The Start of the Solution

Young people from around the globe with and without intellectual disabilities are coming together at the SOGenUin Summit as part of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games with one goal - to change the world.


read more »

Posted on 2015-07-23 by Natalie

go to blog »


Special Olympics - Become a Fan

Your Donation Helps Transform Lives Through Sports!

Become a Sustaining Partner today - monthly giving is an easy and convenient way to support trainings and competitions all year long.

For a limited time, when you become a Sustaining Partner a generous donor will match your generosity with an additional $50 gift to Special Olympics.