Real Sports Experience
Special Olympics’ most popular sports include football (soccer), athletics (track and field), basketball, bocce and bowling.
Sports is a powerful force. It can shift the focus from disability to ability, from isolation to involvement. We offer the highest quality Olympic-style sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities all around the world. This changes attitudes and changes lives.
Striving for World Games. Athletes from more than 170 countries will compete at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Learn More
The Power of Sport, Worldwide
The transformative power of sports to instill confidence, improve health and inspire a sense of competition is at the core of what Special Olympics does. From the detailed coaching guides we provide in many languages to the sharp-eyed officials at our international games, the focus is on real sports, real competition, real achievements.
Feeling the Power. A smiling young athlete with a shiny new medal raises her arms in triumph.
In Special Olympics, the power and joy of sport, shifts focus to what our athletes CAN do, not what they can't.
Attention to disabilities fades away. Instead, we see our athletes' talents and abilities -- and applaud them for all that they can do. And they are doing a lot -- from gymnastics to soccer to open-water swimming. With 32 Olympic-style sports, we offer adults and children with intellectual disabilities many ways to be involved in their communities, many ways to show who they really are.
Since 1968, Special Olympics has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the opportunity. And it all happens through the simple power of sport.
The Power of Sports
At Special Olympics, we believe that sports can teach us all important lessons. When we train and strive for a goal, it teaches us to dream. When we struggle, it teaches us determination. When we win, we find joy. And if we lose, we can find the strength to try again.
Our sports events bring together a large and inclusive community of athletes, supporters and families, coaches, volunteers and many others. The athletes are at the center of it all. They become the heroes -- to the shared joy of themselves, their families and their communities.
These events help us all rediscover the purity of sports -- and real athletic pursuits -- based on true Olympic ideals.
Best in Sport
Special Olympics trainings and competitions are empowering because our athletes prove to themselves all they can do. This inspires them to achieve even more, both in sports and in life. But it’s more than that.
At each Special Olympics event, all of us can see and experience the purity of sports and real athletic success. Our athletes are pushing hard for goals some people can't imagine, against obstacles few have had to face. Their drive to succeed comes from deep inside -- it comes from the heart. What happens can be truly magical.
At the last World Games, a veteran sports reporter thought he’d already seen all the great modern sports figures in action. He changed his mind when he saw Ederson Idrogo on the track. The 23-year-old from Special Olympics Peru was struggling to put one foot in front of the other. He was soaking in sweat under the hot Athens sun during the men's 100-meter walk. Yet he did not give up. Ederson's sheer will and determination brought everyone in the stadium to their feet, their hands clapping together to cheer him on. He did not stop until he reached the finish line; only then did he collapse and catch his breath -- and smile.
The sports reporter says this was a moment he'll never forget. He said that if "greatness" can be seen as overcoming obstacles with determination and heart, then there was a whole lot of greatness at the World Summer Games. In fact, he called the Special Olympics competitions nothing less than sport "in its purest form."
Ederson Idrogo’s run was just one of many moments of greatness among Special Olympics athletes that day. There are many such moments in the making at Special Olympics events any day of the week, all over the world. Come see for yourself.
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Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!