80 Special Olympics Speed Skaters from across Hungary, Kazakhstan, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland and Russia took part in the first ever Special Olympics Speed Skating-Short Track Regional Competitions from March 9th – 11th.
The event took place in the world famous Thialf Arena, in Heerenveen, Northern Netherlands which is home to two World Cup Speed Skating tournaments and where several world records have been set. Thialf will host the World Speed Skating Championships on March 22 - 25, 2012.
The Special Olympics Torch Flame of Hope was carried by 10 law enforcement officers through several Dutch villages, towns and cities for three days before the start of the speed skating competitions to mark the Opening Ceremony.
Every athlete took part in the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Open Eyes screening programme and many left the Speed Skating competition with a new pair of glasses.
The two day competition saw athletes take part in the first day of preliminary races, followed by the finals in 111, 222, 333, 500, 777 and 1000 meter race categories on the second day.
This event provided valuable preparation time for the athletes who are in the middle of their training programmes ahead of the 2013 World Winter Games in Korea.
“I want to thank Special Olympics Netherlands for their excellent organisation of this important and historic competition for our athletes. The support they received from the Dutch Skating Federation and the world famous Thialf Skating Center as well as many sponsors is greatly appreciated throughout the Special Olympics movement. Competitions for our athletes and partnership support are vital for Special Olympics so that we can continue in our goal of empowering children and adults with intellectual disabilities through sports training and competition,” – Mary Davis, Regional President, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia.
For further information:
Suzanne Coogan, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia