Special Olympics athletes are the heart of our movement. Special Olympics practices and competitions happen 365 days a year in 169 countries. With the opportunities to excel and have fun come the associated benefits of improved health and self-image.
Abdel-Rahman Hassan is one example of a Special Olympics athlete who was transformed by his experience. A swimmer with an intellectual disability from Saudi Arabia, he also is partially paralyzed – but at the 2007 Summer World Games in China, Abdel-Rahman won gold medals in 25- and 50-meter races. His talent did not come naturally or easily; his father says it took him a month to hold his breath underwater for three seconds, and a year to swim a distance of one meter. Today, he is a champion.