Over 500 disabled athletes representing 17 organisations proudly gathered with family, friends, well-wishers, coaches, volunteers and the Special Olympics of T&T (SOTT) management team for the opening of the 2013 National Games on Sunday.
In addressing the crowd, SOTT chairperson Norma James said the theme for this year’s event was “Say no to the ‘R’ Word.” She explained that “this is the biggest event of the year for all the athletes.”
James explained the event was the largest of its kind for the year.
“They have trained long and hard all year and now they have come to compete,” said Jones. She indicated that it was a very important time in their lives since it presented them the opportunity to meet with their friends and make new ones from the various institutions around the country.
John Delves, Digicel CEO, in his address thanked James for her dedication and hard work as she continued to strive for excellence for the SOTT. He pledged the commitment of the Digicel Foundation to the Special Olympics and said that it all stemmed from Digicel’s chairman Denis O’Brien who once headed a Special Olympics Committee.
Finally, he urged the athletes to “stand shoulder to shoulder and continue to be extraordinary.”
He then declared the SOTT games open and was introduced, along with Norma James, to athletes representing the 17 institutions participating in the games.
At the end of the ceremony the Special Olympics torch was brought out by two athletes who made one lap around the ground then passed it to James, who then handed it over to Delves. The Digicel CEO then handed the torch over to the SOTT runners who carried it out of the stadium.
The teams then exited to compete in powerlifting, athletics, football, volleyball, bocce, equestrian, aquatics and basketball at various venues in northern Trinidad over the next two days.
At the end of the day, the athletes filed in to the Jean Pierre Complex, Mucurapo, to be entertained with a gala concert.
The proceedings began with a buzz of excitement from all the athletes as they awaited the arrival of the “torch of hope” which was carried from Arima to the Jean Pierre Complex by the largest contingent ever.