Australian Special Olympics (Swimming)
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Opening Ceremony Video Highlights
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Opening Ceremony highlights video
VIP messages - Opening Ceremony
Alicia Coutts video message to our athletes
Sensational Start To Games!
Last night, the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition officially got underway with a spectacular Opening Ceremony at the Australian Institute of Sport.
The event was a fitting celebration for the 400+ athletes from Australia and Japan who are in Canberra to show their talent in the pool.
The Opening Ceremony was hosted by Olympic gold medallist, Alicia Coutts and Paralympic gold medallist Michael Milton who gave an outstanding performance and took time out to get to know our athletes.
There were also plenty of dignatories taking part in the proceedings including the Hon. Kate Lundy, Minister for Sport who said, ‘I look forward to cheering you on and am very happy and proud to be in your company at tonight’s Opening Ceremony. Be brave, be strong and enjoy every minute of the competition.’
As well as Senator Lundy, VIP guests included: Glenn Keys, Chair of the Games Organising Committee; Major General Mick Slater, Board of Special Olympics Australia; Nigel Milan, Board of Special Olympics Australia; and Simon Hollingsworth, CEO of the Australian Sports Commission.
A highlight of the official proceedings was the Parade of Athletes where, for the first time at an international competition, athletes walked into the arena wearing their local Special Olympics uniform – the one they wear so proudly during weekly training.
Other highlights included the event mascot Filos the Platypus and the lighting of the cauldron, the final part of the Torch Run which saw ACT and NSW police officers carry the Flame of Hope from Parliament House to the National Police Memorial then on to the Australian Institute of Sport.
At the end of proceedings a huge crowd of athletes danced away the afternoon before moving on to dinner and bed prior to competition today.
One More Sleep!
Tomorrow afternoon the festivities for the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition will kick ff with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics. This will be followed by a spectacular Opening Ceremony at the Australian Institute of Sport at 4.30pm.
Paralympic gold medallist Michael Milton and Olympic gold medallist Alicia Coutts will host the event in front of friends, fans and families as well as hundreds of athletes with an intellectual disability who will all be eager to start two days of international competition at the home of Australia'schampions.
Opening Ceremony tickets are available until 1pm, 5 April 2012 and are available online. Closing Ceremony tickets are also available.
If you can't make the Ceremony come and watch the action at the Australian Institute of Sport over the weekend. Competition details are on our official website where you will also find our catchy Games theme song and other Games information.
The Stars of The Show
Click here for a full list of athletes who have trained hard to be selected to represent their region at the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition. Good luck, have fun and do your best.
The Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition is one of 51 community-based projects funded through the Centenary Community Initiatives Fund. The Fund has allocated over $1m to community projects. Centenary Creative Director, Robyn Archer AO says: 'It feels great to be welcoming the Special Olympics competitors to Canberra in this Centenary year. These people represent the very best of the human spirit, as they strive for personal best every time: it’s an aspiration that the national capital should symbolize for all Australians.'
While the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition is an international event, each Australian athlete will represent their local region and wear the uniform they wear week-in and week-out at regular training and competition. This is something they are very proud of and the first time they have had the opportunity to show it off at a major event.
Click here to download a full list of athletes and officials participating at the Games. Some of athletes, shown below, shared what they are looking forward to.
Abbey Mills, Brisbane North, QLD
Abbey is 10 years old and started swimming with Special Olympics three years ago. She loves to race. She completed the Michael Phelps IM Program where she made so many new friends and it helped her to be a more confident swimmer. She recently went to the 2012 Junior National Games and caught up with all her old friends. She also plays netball and goes to nippers. She is so excited and very grateful to her coach Liz for helping her get to the Games. Her dream is to be an Olympian just like her idol Michael Phelps who she would like to meet one day!
Brooke McGrath, Macarthur, NSW
Brooke is 25 years old and enjoys swimming, athletics and tenpin bowling. She has been lucky to represent NSW on twoi occasions, first at the National Games in Adelaide in 2010 for athletics, secondly in Cairns for the Trans Tasman Tournament in 2012. For Brooke, to be selected for the event in Canberra is awesome and she says, 'I am just going to go out there and try my best in all my swimming events. I am looking forward to seeing all my friends I see at all the regional and state carnivals, and meeting new friends as well.'
Ryan Buecker, Sydney Hills, NSW
19-year-old Ryan trains weekly in swimming, ten pin bowling and soccer. Having been in Special Olympics for ten years he says his highlight was winning gold at the Junior National Games in Canberra in 2008 and being presented with his medal by Australian Olympic silver medallist, Brenton Rickard. He enjoys Special Olympics because he has made many friends. He is looking forward to competing in his first international event in Canberra, catching up with mates and making new ones.
Ashlie Becker, Sydney Hills, NSW
Ashlie is 20 years old and loves participating in swimming and dancing with Special Olympics Australia. She has been swimming with Special Olympics since 2004 and has competed in many major events, most recently the Special Olympics Australia National Games held in Adelaide in 2010. Ashlie is looking forward to the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition and a long career in the pool!
Louise Richardson, Sydney South, NSW
Louise is 28 years old and will compete in backstroke at the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition. She loves telling people about Special Olympics, meeting new friends and she is looking forward to competing in Canberra. Louise would like to holiday in Greece one day, which was the location for the last Special Olympics World Summer Games. In the meantime, she enjoys her work at Revesby YMCA where she works as a General Assistant.
Julia Wilcox, Sydney South, NSW
Julia is 28 and loves swimming with Special Olympics, so she is really looking forward to competing at the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition. She is busy as an Office Assistant at DEEWR and hopes that her favourite foods of sausages, bread rolls and salad will be served at the Athlete Village.
Amanda Stevens, Sydney South, NSW
26-year-old Amanda is excited about the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition where she hopes to do well and meet new friends. This Beethoven lover also enjoys athletics and tennis at Special Olympics when she is not working at St George Bank in Kogarah.
Danielle Slade, Sydney South, NSW
Dani, as she is more commonly known, hopes to continue to improve her swimming which she participates in every Wednesday in her local program. She has two jobs and is also studying Retail at TAFE. At just 19 years old her dream is to travel to Paris where she can indulge in one of her favourite foods, chocolate. Until then, Canberra is proving very exciting.
Claire Pearson, Sydney South, NSW
At 18, Claire is taking on the huge task of completing Year 12 at Endeavour High School. But she will take time out to swim at the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition. She has been swimming in her local program for six years and says, ‘our coaches are great!’ She also plays netball outside of Special Olympics and dreams of visiting Disneyland.
Ryan O’Connor, Sydney South, NSW
Ryan is 18 and coping with Year 12. He loves sport and will enjoy competing at the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition. Apart from swimming he enjoys golf, basketball, football (soccer) and knee-boarding. Good luck to his parents and coaches for supporting all of those passions!
Michael Stanton, Sydney South, NSW
Michael is just 15 and has been swimming with his local Special Olympics program for two years. He loves it and will be able to share what he has learned every Wednesday at his first international swim meet, the Canberra Centenary Swimming Competition. He loves his swimming coaches, John and Peter, and is looking forward to proving them proud by showing his abilities in Canberra.
Casey Stevens, Sydney South, NSW
Casey is 14 and in Year 8 at Endeavour High School. Casey likes Special Olympics because she can make friends and her coaches, ‘help me with my stroke.’