OPENING CEREMONY HIGHLIGHTS
Click the link above to view highlights from the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games.
24-year-old Special Olympics Australia athlete ambassador Mel Eustace from Sydney NSW, gave a passionate speech expressing what Special Olympics means to athletes with an intellectual disability.
‘Special Olympics allows me to be healthy, have friends, be fit, enjoy life and achieve,’ she said.
Her mentor and Games Chairman John Trivilliam AM added, ‘Special Olympics is a celebration of ability. It is about people gathering to socialise, practice, train, compete and challenge each other.’
Among the Australian dignitaries to attend the event were:
Her Excellency the Honourable Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
Senator the Honourable Mitch Fifield MP, Assistant Minister Social Services, Parliament of Australia
The Honourable Bob Baldwin MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Parliament of Australia
The Honourable Gabrielle Upton MP, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Parliament of New South Wales
The Honourable John Ajaka MP, Minister for Disabilities, Minister for Ageing, Parliament of New South Wales
International President Mr Barry Palmer, President of Lions Clubs International and Mrs Anne Palmer
Following an extensive Final Leg Torch Run in which Law Enforcement Officers carried the Flame of Hope from Sydney and through communities in the Hunter and Newcastle, NSW Police Commissioner, Mr Andrew Scipione delivered the Flame of Hope to Australian athlete Geoffrey Kirby at the Opening Ceremony to conclude the Torch Run journey and symbolically open the Games.
Geoffrey, a swimmer from Cardiff South in the Newcastle area, was given the honour of lighting the cauldron, which was designed in the shape of the Games logo. The final 'petals' of the logo were placed in position by Special Olympics athletes and local performers, representing acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities.
For 31-year-old Special Olympics athlete Stewart Abbott, playing the piano is a way of communicating.
During the Opening Ceremony, he collaborated with Opening Ceremony Creative Director, John Foreman, to perform a grand piano medley which ignited huge applause from the crowd.
Fireworks light up the Newcastle sky during the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games. Photo: Phillip Wittke
LOCAL MEDIA COVERAGE
Team Australia athlete Keiran Corry with his family. Photo: Newcastle Herald.
If you caught the Newcastle Herald over coffee this morning you would have been delighted with the coverage of last night’s Opening Ceremony with a photo of Tasmania’s sole athlete and bocce player Donna West gracing the cover. Local athlete Keiran Corry, who will compete in swimming at the Games, also shared the limelight with a story sharing how Special Olympics has positively influenced the Corry family, which includes three siblings with an intellectual disability.
YOUNG ATHLETES LAUNCH
Athletes enjoy the activities at the Special Olympics Young Athletes Fun Day. Photo: Phillip Wittke.
They may be too young to compete in Special Olympics, but that’s not stopping Hunter toddlers and children from getting in on the action of the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games.
Minister for Sport and Recreation, Gabrielle Upton and Member for Newcastle, Tim Owen, today attended the Young Athletes Fun Day, held at the University of Newcastle, which gives young children between the ages 2-8 a chance to develop their sporting skills through play.
‘Special Olympics Young Athletes program is a unique sport and play program for children with an intellectual disability,’ said Ms Upton.
‘Sport is a fantastic tool to help children of all ages and abilities develop strength, coordination, balance and fitness. The program has been running successfully overseas for a number of years and now Special Olympics Australia is looking to roll it out nationally.’
Tim Owen said, ‘It’s wonderful that the Games has provided so many opportunities for the local community to be involved. More than 100 local children took part in today’s Fun Day.’
The program is supported by Mattel and many of their Australian staff were in Newcastle today.