~Athletes proud to represent young country~
Eleven "special" athletes will represent young country St. Maarten at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece from June 25 – July 4.
The delegation leaves the island on June 18 and returns on July 5. This will be St. Maarten’s second participation in the World Summer Games. The first time St. Maarten participated was four years ago when Sr. Basilia Center clients Marijke Linda Richardson and Lindomar Carvon participated in Shanghai, China and won one gold and two silver medals.
Special Olympics Foundation St. Maarten President Former First Lady Angela Richards-Huggins said the athletes have been undergoing intensive training and are ready to represent young Country St. Maarten to the best of their abilities while having fun.
Athletes are drawn from the Prins Willem Alexander School for Special Education (PWAS), Sr. Basilia Center and St. Maarten Vocational Training School.
Athletes will participate in three of the 24 areas: track and field (racing, shot put and long jump), swimming and bocce.
Representing St. Maarten in track and field will be will be Linda Richardson and Milinda Rogers from the Sr. Basilia Center; Katiana Pierre and Joseph Fidanque from Prins Willem Alexander School and Stefano Gordon and Jivana Claxton from the St. Maarten Vocational Training School. Competing in swimming will be Willemijn Verloop and Roger Jeffers of the Sr. Basilia Center and Jivanta Claxton and Nathan Mollineau from the Prins Willem Alexander School (PWAS). Albert Arrindell from the Sr. Basilia Center will compete in bocce.
Athletes will be accompanied by five coaches (Les Brown, , Antroy Cleghorn, Isha Marlin and Debby Rombley), Head of Delegation (HOD) Special Olympics Foundation St. Maarten(SOSM) Secretary Loyola Seymonson and one Assistant Head of Delegation (Asst. HOD) Greta Mathew.
The entire trip costs an estimated NAf. 68,000 (NAf. 58,000 in tickets alone). The host country is responsible for meals, accommodation and ground transportation. The St. Maarten team will be sporting uniforms bearing the colours of the country’s flag: red, white and blue.
An estimated 7,500 Special Olympics Athletes from 185 nations will compete in 22 Olympic-type sports at the international event. The games are held every four years in a different nation.
SO President former First Lady Angela Richards-Huggins said the preparations for the games have been going smoothly with athletes stepping up their training as their date of departure draws near.
As the 11 St. Maarten athletes prepare for to depart for Greece this weekend, Richards-Huggins hopes that athletes have fun and meet new friends while they compete and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience of being in a big country and participating in a world renowned competition with 10,000 fellow athletes and spectators from all over the world.
"I am happy that we are able to accomplish this," she said thanking the coaches, SO board, donors, parents, athletes and the wider community who are supportive in one way or another of the SO movement in St. Maarten. "I salute you all."
The Special Olympics World Summer Games is the crowning of a long lasting movement founded in 1968 by the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who managed to realize her dream of putting the spotlight on intellectually challenged athletes around the world.
The games offer participation opportunities to persons with intellectual disabilities in 24 Olympic-type sports: Athletics, Swimming, Artistic Gymnastics and Rhythmic Gymnastics, Basketball, Tennis, Football, Volleyball, Equestrian, Table Tennis, Bowling, Canoe-Kayaking, Cycling, Weightlifting, Golf, Judo, Handball, Sailing, and four winter sports: Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Ice Skating and Snow Shoeing. St. Maarten will participate in four of these.
It is the only games in the world, where all participating athletes are winners. They are winners in their struggle for our respect in their diversity, winners in their struggle for self-esteem and winners in their struggle to defend their special abilities.
Delegations from around the world will be received in a host-town program for four days throughout the 13 regions of Greece prior to their arrival in Athens for the Games.
Through a series of sporting, cultural and artistic events, Special Olympics athletes will have the opportunity to adapt to a new environment, to experience the Greek culture, to enjoy the natural beauty and traditional cuisine, as well as train before the Games, it was stated on the games official website.
Other members of the St. Maarten Special Olympics Board are: Lisandra Havertong (Treasurer and Vice President); Les Brown (Sports Director); Loyola Seymonson (Secretary); Joycelyn Patrick (Parent liaison); Willemijn Verloop (Athlete representative); Brigitte Halley (Prins Willem Alexander School Coordinator) and Greta Mathew (Sr. Basilia Center Coordinator).