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18 Jamaicans for Special Olympics

Thursday, January 17, 2013 | 5:12 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -  Eighteen Jamaican athletes will  participate in the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from January 29 to February 5.

The delegation, led by Glendon West, will be the largest ever to participate in the games for athletes with intellectual disabilities, over the past 30 years. The 18 -member team will compete in floor hockey and figure skating.

Addressing a media briefing at the Alhambra Inn in Kingston yesterday, Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Sports, Natalie Neita Headley, lauded all of Jamaica’s successes in sports during 2012.

“There really can be no competition, no sport, no activity that better exemplifies true sportsmanship than what happens with Special Olympics,” she said. “From the onset, the Special Olympics have helped to change attitudes and break down barriers that excluded people with intellectual disabilities from the mainstream of the community and from sport at its most competitive levels.”

Of the Jamaican team, the Neita Headley pointed out that, “these young men and women are not to be taken lightly…they are true athletes that have spent enormous amounts of time training and honing their minds and spirits to meet the challenges of global competition”.

She said other athletes could learn from the Special Olympics team, as they have shown that they can participate in varying sporting disciplines. 

“Going to Rio 2016, I wish for the example shown here by the Special Olympics team to be adopted by all Olympians and aspiring Olympians, that the sky is the limit,” she stated.

Neita Headley noted that the National Sports Policy white paper, which has been submitted to Cabinet, speaks specifically to Jamaica’s commitment to sport for all. 

“I wholeheartedly embrace the principle that sport is a human right for all individuals regardless of race, social class, gender, or disability,” she told the gathering of athletes and other sporting interests.

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