Pietermaritzburg to host Olympics South Africa

2014-06-17 00:00

SPECIAL Olympics South Africa has chosen Pietermaritzburg to hold its 2014 national games, from July 8 to 11.

According to its website, Special Olympics is founded on the belief that people with intellectual

disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports.

The Pietermaritzburg event is a precursor to the Special Olympics World Summer Games that will take place in Los Angeles in July next year. A draw will be held to select the national team that will represent South Africa in the international games.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela has thrown in his full backing for the event and the city council has agreed to sponsor the opening ceremony; as well as catering for the coaches, officials and athletes during the games.

Ndlela said that Pietermaritzburg was privileged to be chosen as a venue by Special Olympics South Africa and that it was an honour to support such a worthy cause.

Teams will compete in five sports codes – athletics, aquatics, futsal (a form of indoor soccer), table tennis and bocci (an Italian game that is similar to bowls). More than 500 athletes, 81 coaches and 73 officials from throughout South Africa will be part of this major event in the city.

Former Mpumalanga Premier and ANC Treasurer-General Matthews Phosa is the chairperson of Special Olympics South Africa.

He said the aim of the organisation was to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. According to Phosa this gave them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Facts and figures on Special Olympics

SPECIAL Olympics is the one of the largest amateur sports federations in the world, with:

* More than 3.5 million athletes

* More than 200 Special Olympics Programs in more than 180 countries

* 30 Olympic-type summer and winter sports

* More than 700,000 volunteers

* More than 500,000 coaches

* Nearly 25,000 competitions around the world each year.

* Special Olympics South Africa reaches more than 32,000 athletes across 9 provinces and offers training in 13 official sports with more than 730 competition opportunities each year.

[Taken from the Special Olympics website]

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