Weeklong Special Olympics National Games get under way

Participants in Saturday's LETR Kirkland Nixon Memorial Fire Truck Pull helped raise money for the Special Olympics.

A weeklong Special Olympics competition is under way, highlighted already by the opening ceremonies, a torch run, swimming and track-and-field events, and a fundraising fire truck pull.

More than 30 athletes, supported by 45 volunteers, took part in the track-and-field events Monday night as the National Games Competition began at Truman Bodden Sports Complex. Family and friends cheered from the stands.

Spokeswoman Vanessa Hansen said the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a global effort that has partnered with the Special Olympics since 1981, “was exciting and kind of set the tone” for the week’s competition.

Ms. Hansen said this is the first time in three years that the Special Olympics national competition has been held.

“We put a hold on the national games for a number of years because we were focusing on individual sports,” she said.

This year’s return to a national competition provides a chance to prepare for the World Games being held in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

On Monday, athletes competed in 19 track events ranging from 25m runs and walks to the 1,500m race. There were relays as well. Four of the races were invitational events where athletes without disabilities competed alongside the Special Olympics runners.

“Unified sport is a key element to the Special Olympics movement,” Ms. Hansen said. “This was the first time we’ve done an invitational.”

In the 1,500m competition, Ms. Hansen said, about a dozen non-disabled students from various schools and clubs joined in the races. A Special Olympics athlete, Julius Smith, won the event.

Special Olympics Chairman Adrian Lynch presents medals to athletes, from left, Cody Conolly, Khalid Arana, John Wight, Devon Ebanks and Mackie Smith on Monday.

Teams for the upcoming bocce, basketball and football events will be a mix of developmentally disabled athletes and their able-bodied teammates. The swimming competition, which draws the largest number of athletes, was held Tuesday evening at the Lions Pool.

Before the start of the competition, some Special Olympics athletes participated in the LETR Kirkland Nixon Memorial Fire Truck Pull on Saturday. Each of the teams competing in the fundraising event had a Special Olympics athlete as one of its members.

The Cayman Islands Fire Service won the law enforcement competition and Cayman Islands CrossFit team took the top spot in the corporate section.

This year’s National Games coincide with major milestones as Special Olympics Cayman Islands marks 30 years of serving the local community, and Special Olympics International celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Members of the community are encouraged to come out and cheer on the athletes throughout the week as the competition continues:

  • June 6, bocce, Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
  • June 7, basketball, First Baptist Church and School, 920 Crewe Road.
  • June 9, standup paddleboard, Governors Beach.
  • June 12, football and football skills, Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
  • All events are at 5 p.m. except paddleboarding, which is at 9 a.m.