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First lady takes her marks for Special Olympics

Updated: 2015-07-26 19:39
By Sun Ye (chinadaily.com.cn)

First lady takes her marks for Special Olympics

Chinese Special Olympics ambassador Liu Tao takes a selfie with athletes during the opening ceremony in Los Angeles. June 25, 2015. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"We're all in this together," declared US first lady Michelle Obama at the opening of this year's Special Olympics World Summer Games at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

"We can lift up our friends and neighbors and bring out the best in each other to reach even higher heights," she told a crowd of 60,000 and 7,000 athletes from around the world who will compete in the week-long event.

She also said US president Barak Obama, as well as her, were proud of the achievements and hopes athletes with intellectual disabilities brought.

This year's event, the 14th Summer Games since its establishment in 1968, features participants from 165 countries competing in 25 sports.

The Games aim to inspire people with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport and help them discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Its objective is to lead athletes to joy, confidence and fulfillment - on the playing field and in life. It now encompasses more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries around the world.

China has the world's biggest number of participants with more than 1.1 million registered athletes and 40,000 coaches. It's also one of the fastest growing countries since the non-profit organization was first set up in China in 1985. The 2007 Special Olympic Games were held in Shanghai.

This time, 93 Chinese athletes in a delegation of 126, will take part in 10 categories including track and field, swimming, football, basketball and table tennis. The youngest Chinese athlete is 10, the oldest 39.

"I'm not nervous," Wu Weibin, a 22 year-old gold-medalist swimmer from Guangdong province said. "So long as you relax, the results will be good."

"The Chinese delegation will make their best efforts to present the fruits of their development and share their passion and happiness," said Wang Meimei, head of the delegation and deputy director of the China Disabled Person's Federation.

"Their goal is not really about winning," Lu Yong, chairman of the Chinese Special Olympics Committee and director of China Disabled Person's Federation said. "It's more about communicating and learning from others. It's their participation that will encourage society to change".

Besides competition, athletes will engage in unifying activities and cultural exchange events.

China took part in the parade of competing nations together with figure skating champion Mitchelle Kwan, Special Olympics image ambassador, actor Liu Tao and Special Olympics senior consultant and real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi. Xing Le, a gymnast from Shanghai was one of the flag bearers.

Avril Lavigne, Stevie Wonder, Michael Phelps and other celebrities were present. The US has the largest delegation of close to 500.

Contact the writer at sunye@chinadaily.com.cn

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