2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games

June 26, 2011

On the first day of competition at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the inaugural Unity Sports Events also began throughout Athens, featuring celebrities, professional athletes and Special Olympics International Board Members competing alongside Special Olympics athletes in Tennis and Cycling. 

Unity and Tennis

Unity Tennis kicked off the Unity Event series with an exciting set of matches.  Among the many highlights were Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Inc., who competed alongside International Global Messenger Ariel Ary in a fierce doubles match against Special Olympics President and COO, Brady Lum and Florida athlete Brittany Tagliareniat at the OAKA Tennis Center.  Brittany led her team with winning shots while Ariel responded with enthusiasm and consistent ground stokes.  The competition was close, but Brittany and Brady took home the victory. 

Cycling with Celebrities

South of the city, at the Hellinikon Sports Complex, Unity Cycling debuted with unified pairs competing on an outdoor cycling track.  Special Olympics Global Ambassador Zhang Ziyi teamed up with Nazeer Ahmed from Pakistan for the competition. Mattel’s Chief Financial Officer and Special Olympics Board Member Kevin Farr joined with Chi Sung Yang for the time-trial event. Dozens of Mattel volunteers also assisted, including Deidre Lind, Executive Director of Mattel Children’s Foundation and Philanthropy Programs.  Lind said “it’s an honor for Mattel to be a fan of play here at the Unity Sports Program. We’re here to cheer, volunteer and we are having fun!  We are committed to making a difference, one athlete at a time.”

Cycling Safely

Athletes competing in the Unity Cycling Event wore helmets donated by the Road Safety Fund, an initiative of the FIA Foundation, which funds road safety initiatives to support the implementation of the United Nations' Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. David Ward, Director General of the FIA Foundation, explained that “road crashes are expected to double in the next five years, driven mostly by increasing car usage in the developing world.”  Ward also explained that the yellow helmets were manufactured by a company in Vietnam that employs people with disabilities.

Get Involved

Unity Sports, inspired by Unified Sports® and the Special Olympics Unity Cup Presented by Coca-Cola, spotlight the importance of inclusion, sportsmanship and friendship to the world.  Participants of Unity Sports Events engaged in an online fundraising campaign prior to the start of the World Games, raising over $100,000 in support of Special Olympics. For more information about supporting Unity Events, visit http://thon.kintera.org/UnitySportsEvents/.

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