KUCHING, July 2: The biennial Special Olympics (SO) Sarawak State Games 2018 is set to kick off here this Aug 17-20.
The 788 differently abled (OKU) athletes will fight for supremacy at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), the games’ venue.
Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said besides track and field, there would be boccia, swimming, ten pin bowling and football events.
The Special Olympics is a global organisation that works with thousands of volunteers and coaches to serve people with intellectual disabilities (ID).
This movement is aimed to create a ‘new world’ of inclusion and community, where everyone is accepted and welcomed, regardless of their ability or disability.
“My ministry has been entrusted to develop, take care of, and prepare People with Disabilities (PWD) for sports at state and national levels. We carry out annual programmes and activities in recreation, sports and related careers,” Fatimah said at the state games briefing here today.
She pointed out that the Special Olympics was meant to inspire hope, confidence and courage.
“Special Olympics not only changes the lives of our athletes with intellectual disabilities but also that of our coaches, families, volunteers and others who have the opportunity to take part. Our athletes are children and adults with intellectual disabilities from all around the state. They find success, joy and friendship as part of the community,” she said.
Fatimah added that through sports, the participants would see themselves for their abilities, not disabilities.
“Their world is opened with acceptance and understanding. They become confident and empowered by their accomplishments,” she stressed.
At the national level, PWD sports include Special Olympics Games, Deaflympic Games (SOPMA) and Paralympic Games.
“These games will be funded by the Sarawak state government biennially for them to prepare for the challenges,” Fatimah explained.
Meanwhile, the next SOPMA games will be held in Perak this Oct 15-20.
Sarawak was ranked third in the medal tally with six gold medals in the last SOPMA games in Kuching in 2016.
Fatimah said this time round, Sarawak would be sending 80 athletes to take part in badminton, ten pin bowling and track and field events.
Sarawak will also be taking part in the coming Paralympic Games 2018, also in Perak from Oct 21-28.
“As champions of the games in Malaysia for 12 consecutive times (1994-2016), Sarawak is gunning for the 13th champion title with 85 gold medals. We are very proud of our athletes and we must hold on to it,” said Fatimah.
Sarawak will be participating in track and field, swimming, ten pin bowling, powerlifting, ping pong, badminton, chess, archery and boccia.
Meanwhile athletes from Sarawak have done well in numerous SO international games. They participated in the SO Summer Games in Ireland (2003), Taiwan (2004), China (2007), Macau (2014) and USA (2015) as well as the SO Winter Games in USA (2009), South Korea (2013) and Austria (2017).
This year, Sarawak’s PWDs have participated in several international-level competitions, namely Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018, Beijing 2018 World Para Athletics and Singapore Boccia Open 2018. — DayakDaily