Special Olympics Games in Berlin Takes Off

The Malaysian athletes marching into the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

By Sylvia Kavita Kumares

BERLIN, June 17: The Berlin’s 2023 Special Olympics World Games opening took off at the Olympic Stadium here Saturday evening, amid a dazzling display of live music, performances, parade of athletes, live tracking of the marathon runners and an official declaration of the opening of the games followed by torch bearer, Sophie Rensmann lighting up the flame of hope.

President of Germany Frank Walter Steinmeier declared open the Games, which has come long way from what began in a summer camp to encourage the participation in sports by those with disabilities, by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1962. She made the vision a reality with the first International Summer pecial Olympics Games in Chicago, US in 1968.

The story of Eunice and her passion to bring the focus to the abilities and the founding of SO was featured in a video as part of the opening ceremony.

The 2023 event will see a total of 7,000 athletes from 190 countries.

Malaysia’s participation in the Games is the biggest so far, assistant head of the Malaysian delegation to the event, Bong Koi Sin told in an interview with Weekly Echo ahead of the event.

He said the Malaysian team has been growing over the years in terms of participation, number of athletes and achievements.

“It’s the first time we are receiving this much support from sponsors,” he said, commending the Ministry of Youth and Sports and its Minister Hannah Yeoh, the National Sports Council as well as private sector companies that had given the support to Special Olympics Malaysia.

He also said creating awareness of the Special Olympics was also important as many people were still not aware of it, adding that parents of athletes played a huge role with their support and attendance at the games.

“We are looking forward to our athletes giving their best and hopefully achieve good results.”

On Malaysia’s chances at the event, he added that there was a target for 3 gold medals but declined to reveal the sports. Malaysia will compete in six sporting events, namely swimming, bocce, badminton, table tennis, bowling and athletics.

Meanwhile, athletes Nur Amir and Nur Aslizah said they were looking forward to their competition.

Nur Amir said he was both excited and nervous. “My biggest rivals will be athletes
from Jamaica and South Africa. My goal is to perform my best and hopefully win a medal
for Malaysia.”

On Sunday, the swimming team will be competing with Sheena Ung Xin Ying in the 100m freestyle Level A Quarterfinals.

Yeo Yong Jan will compete in the 25 m Breastroke Level B, Quarterfinals and also in the 50m breastroke Level B Quarter finals..

— WE