Yesterday the first day of competition got underway at the 2014 Special Olympics Summer Games in an atmosphere of joy, friendship and enthusiasm. Two thousand athletes with intellectual disabilities from fifty eight countries are competing in ten sports at five locations across Antwerp.

300 medical professional volunteers are providing free health screening checks to the athletes in seven clinical disciplines; Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest (sports physical exam), Opening Eyes (vision) and Special Smiles (dentistry). Officially launched in 1997, Healthy Athletes educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and identify problems that may need additional follow-up.

“We had a truly inspirational and excellent first day with an enthusiastic start both for the athletes, families, supporters and volunteers. We hope to find the same enthusiasm tomorrow with many great sports action promised.  Entrance is free to the public so I would encourage as many spectators to attend and see the talents and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities up close.”

– Marc Vanlombeek, spokesperson of the 2014 Special Olympics European Games

Today: Day 2 of Competition and lots more!

Today the first finals will take place in badminton, boccia, cycling and table tennis. Unified basketball will also commence. “Unified” means that athletes with and without intellectual disabilities play together on the same sports field. The calendar of the competitions and the results are available online:

The European Games is not just about sports! Food lovers will be treated to gourmet cooking in the Olympic Town (Steenplein Antwerp) tomorrow. Lunch will be prepared by students with and without an intellectual disability from the Emmaüs institute and the Stedelijk Lyceum in a Unified cooking demonstration with top chef Christer Elfving.

The Special Olympics Scientific Symposium will take place tomorrow in conjunction with the Antwerp Management School and the HEC Management School of Liège. The research teams of these two schools will present the results of their findings on the integration of people with an intellectual disability in the labour market. The Special Olympics Scientific Symposium will take place from 9am until 16pm in the Antwerp Hilton hotel, Groenplaats 32, Antwerp.

Antwerp Expo (Hall 3) will welcome the Young Athletes from 2pm until 4pm The Young Athletes Program is a sports program for children aged between 2 and 7 with an intellectual disability. The program aims to develop motor skills and sports skills in order to enhance physical health and improve cognitive and social skills.

Keep your eyes peeled across the Able network for the latest from the Games and to keep yourself informed about how the GB Team are getting on.