Over six hundred athletes from 16 units and several independents took part in the 36th edition of the Special Olympics Games which were held at the National Stadium yesterday.
They participated in the 15, 25, 100, 200, 400, and 800 metres, the 4 x 400m relays, the tennis ball throw, standing board jump, the long jump and a 10 and 20 metros wheelchair race.
“The starting age is from 5 years to adulthood, there is no age limit, we encourage everyone to take part in the games,” Edward Thompson, public relations officer of Special Olympics Barbados, said.
He explained that unlike other track and field games, points were not given to members of competing teams but medals were given to the athletes who placed in the races and ribbons were awarded to all of the athletes who took part in the games.”
“These games are designed to improve the self confidence of the athletes who compete.”
They all have various challenges, so at the end of the day times are not important but competing among their peers and having family and friends cheering on their efforts does a lot to help them build self esteem,” Thompson said.
The loud cheers of encouragement as the athletes raced down the tracks was an indication that those who attended the games were there to support athletes who were very special to them.
Another of the athletes showed they were aware of the antics of the international stars and mimicked some of them.
Independent runner Akintude Hall was one of the special competitors who showed that he has the capacity to compete at any level in the 200 metres. Running in the 20 and up age group, he dominated from the beginning to the end to not only capture the gold but also the hearts of many people in the stadium.
Young Abigail Meyers of Erdiston Primary, the winner of the softball throw in the 5 to 7 age category, displayed quiet poise and charm to win the gold medal which earned her many fans.
Kadeem Wilkinson of Ann Hill School was another athlete who put in a sterling performance to win the 400 metres in the 16 to 21 age group. He held the lead from the start to the end and waved to his fans in the stands just before he crossed the finish line.
Little Aron Gilkes of the Sunshine Early Stimulation Centre, the winner of the gold medal in the 8 to 11 category, made the fans in the stadium erupt with cheers and laughter when he danced and jump all over the track after winning his race.
The units which took part in the games were the Albert Cecil Graham Development Centre and Workshop, All Saints Primary, Ann Hill School, Challenor Creative Centre, Charles F. Broome Primary School, Eagle Hall Primary, Elayne Scantlebury, Ellerton Primary Annex, Erdiston Special School, Hilda Skeene Primary Annex, St Matthew’s Primary Annex, St Matthew’s Primary School Annex, Sunshine Early Stimulation Centre, the Learning Centre and several Independents.
The athletes’ oath at the games was: “Let me win but if I cannot win, Let me be brave in my attempt.”
They surely lived up to that lofty ideal.
(More photos available in our ePaper – http://epaper.barbadostoday.bb)