Two teams means twice the fun at the Special Olympics Maine Winter Games.
Twice a year, athletes from all over Maine come together to test their athletic prowess and compete for the gold at the Special Olympics Maine state games.
This year, SKILLS sent two teams of athletes to compete at Sugarloaf in three of the four available sporting events.
From the L.C. Dill Center in Skowhegan came the River Hawks. Their team of eight athletes competed in snow shoeing and cross-country skiing. From Ervin Community Supports in Waterville, came the Phoenix Flames. Their team of five competed in cross-country skiing, snow showing, and alpine skiing.
Events were held from Jan 28 to Jan 30.
In the weeks between Thanksgiving and the end of January, Special Olympics athletes focus on training for their events. Two or three times each week they can be found outside practicing for such events as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
When the weather is bad, they practice indoors. Even if they can’t be on the snow, they can work on endurance and physical fitness. All this to prepare for the event of the season – the Special Olympics Winter games at Sugarloaf.
Though the the training season only lasts a couple of months, preparation never really stops. Athletes are athletes even when they’re not competing. Being a Special Olympics athlete means paying attention to your personal health and fitness, so you can do your best year after year.
Some of these athletes have been participating in the Special Olympics since childhood. Most participate in the Summer Games as well.
It’s well worth the effort they put in. Athletes get a lot more than a medal. They get a sense of accomplishment, the knowledge that they trained hard and did their best, and the opportunity to push themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of.
While time trails and heats pit athletes against competitors, the real challenge is beating your own personal record.
The Special Olympics is a global network that provides a platform for adults and children with intellectual challenges to see themselves for their abilities not their disabilities.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded Special Olympics in 1968 to honor her sister Rosemary and others with similar challenges. What started as a day-long summer camp has become an international phenomenon with more than 5 million athletes and 1 million volunteers across 170 countries.
Eligible athletes are those with intellectual disabilities, cognitive delay, or a closely related developmental disability. But on the field they’re all athletes, striving to do their best.
“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
– Special Olympics Athlete Oath
Special Olympics events are held at the area, state, national and international level. SKILLS falls into the Somerset and Upper Kennebec County Area. Normally, time trials are held about two weeks before the main event.
The whole state comes together near the end of January for the Special Olympics Maine Winter Games at Sugarloaf.