An estimated BDS$250,000 more is needed in order to send a team to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.
And with a little more than a year to go the Barbados Olympic Association is imploring the Barbadian public for support.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY public relations officer, Edward Thompson, said they are desirous of sending at least 20 athletes to the summer games. Admitting, however, that it will be an arduous task to raise the money he said he was confident that it could happen. So far telecommunications network Digicel have come onboard to establish the Road To The World Games fund in this effort. Additionally, The Barbados Golf Club has made a commitment to sponsor two Barbados golfers for the 2015 World Games.
“Our athletes have done very well in the past and they are dedicated to the sports that they are training in. They are all practicing in their different disciplines and preparing for the games. In 2011 we were only able to send seven but they all came back with medals; gold, silver and bronze. This time around we are hoping to expand the group to send golfers also. We think our chances are good, we will be competing against some of the best Special Olympians in the world so there will be a lot of stiff competition but we would like to think we have very good chances,” Thompson said.
“Everyone is a winner in Special Olympics. These are people who have intellectual challenges so it is important for them to compete. They get the joy of competing alongside others from different countries, with others and they get that experience. Even though it is a competition it is fun and they are winners just from competing. The fact is that they are able to make accomplishments in areas they would not usually accomplish anything in,” he added, as he urged other businesses to assist.
Thompson also asked the public to go out and attend the Special Olympics Barbados Annual National Games. He said the support and cheering from spectators was very important as it boosted the confidence of the athletes and improved their self-confidence and their sense of inclusion in the larger society as it made them feel like they have succeeded. All National Games event are free of charge.
The games get underway on Friday, March 7 with the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Track And Field Preliminary Meet at the Police Sports Club Grounds in Weymouth. Intellectually challenged athletes, ranging from ages five to adult, will put forth their best performances as they attempt to qualify for the largest event on the Special Olympics calendar, the National Games Track And Field Finals.
Many Special Olympics athletes are accomplished in several areas of sports, and they will shift gears from track and field to the game of bocce on Sunday, March 16 to take part in the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Bocce Championship. The annual event will be held at the Hockey Astroturf at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex in Wildey.
Bocce, a bowling game of Roman origin, requires great hand-eye coordination, but those who have never played the game will also have an opportunity to test their skills. The Bocce Championship will be a unified sports event, in which Special Olympics athletes will compete alongside participants who do not have intellectual challenges. Members of the public, who attend the Bocce Championship, and volunteers are invited to join in the fun and win medals and ribbons by becoming bocce players for a day.
The focus of the competition then switches back to track and field on Wednesday, March 26 for the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Track And Field Finals at the National Stadium. The Track And Field Finals will feature athletes who qualified in the earlier Track And Field Preliminary Meet and Barbados gold, silver and bronze medal winners from the Special Olympics World Summer Games held in 2011 in Athens, Greece.
These participants, along with bocce athletes, will be sharpening their skills with hopes of being selected for the Barbados team, which will take part in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, California.
The national games will continue beyond the month of March when the attention turns to cricket. The Special Olympics Barbados National Games Cricket Championship is scheduled for Friday, May 16. In October athletes from special units and institutions across the nation will come together to compete for trophies, medals and ribbons in the Special Olympics Barbados National Games Football Championship.
The public can make donations to the Road To The World Games at CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, account number 1001111009. Digicel and other supportive businesses have also placed collection tins in various locations island-wide.