The Albanian city of Elbasan welcomed more than 180 athletes from five regions to their Special Olympics Basketball Week event which was a mixture of sport competition, Healthy Athletes and for the first time ever a Special Smiles program.
One certified dentist and nine new young graduated dentists carried out the Special Smiles screening at the two day sporting event on November 19 and November 20. Special Smiles screenings were not the only Healthy Athlete activity during this event. Thanks to the support of Dr. Diamanta Shuteriqi, a special friend of Special Olympics, athletes had the opportunity to undertake cardiac check ups during the second day of the event. At the event Dr. Diamanta Shuteriqi spoke about the importance of the Healthy Athlete programme; “People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk of preventable secondary health conditions such as obesity, poor fitness and dental problems. Special Olympics Healthy Athletes is a fantastic initiative that helps athletes to improve their training and fitness by focusing on overall health and fitness.”
The basketball segment of the Albanian Basketball Week was also a great success. More than 50 coaches, teachers, referees and volunteers joined the 180 athletes to watch and participate in these wonderfully exciting games. The Special Olympics Elbasan team were this year’s favourite to take home the gold cup. A nail biting final ensued between Elbasan and Shkodra with both teams playing with passion, enthusiasm and dignity. In the end it was Elbasan who took first place, followed by Shkodra and Korca in second and third place.
The Albanian Basketball Week was supported by the Ministry of Sports and the Municipality of Elbasan. In attendance at the opening ceremony to welcome the athletes was SOA President Ismet Bellova and Deputy Mayor of Elbasan Mr. Serafin; “I am extremely proud to welcome 180 Special Olympics to the Special Olympics Basketball Week. I know this will prove to be a wonderful event and we are all very proud that the city of Elbasan is the lucky host”.
The event was broadcast on the local television station of Elbasan and featured in three local sporting newspapers.