Strong Showing by Glendale Athletes at Special Olympics 2014 Summer Invitational Games

The Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) Summer Games are held at California State University  Long Beach in June every year, where athletes from delegations across Southern California who have competed in regional competitions come together. This year, though, the Invitational Games were held at USC and featured 1,200 athletes from Special Olympics Southern California, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, Egypt, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iraq, Macau, Mexico, Nippon (Japan), Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Athletes competed in bocce, basketball, aquatics, gymnastics, athletics (track & field), and golf at various venues on the USC campus and Griffith Park (golf).

In the past year, Glendale has created a chapter of Special Olympics within the tri-valley region. Coaches have completed specialized training in coaching athletes with intellectual disabilities. Athletes train for several competitions throughout the year, including the Tri-Valley Games held at Crescenta Valley High School in April and, for the first time, the summer games. Athletes representing Tri-Valley Glendale in the summer games, under the coaching of Todd Hunt and Kathy Leons, were Anthony Akl (gold: 50m run; silver 4×100 relay), Michael Leon (gold: 50m run; silver: 4×100 relay), Paul Kim (silver: 100m run and 4×100 relay; bronze: 200m run), Patrick Lineberger (silver: 100m run, 200m run, 4×100 relay), Kevin Hand (bronze: 100m run, softball throw) and Lorna Roy (gold: softball throw; silver: 50m run). These athletes, who have all been successful at regional competitions, showed that they are able to hold their own against tough worldwide competition.
Special Olympics Southern California offers year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 15,000 athletes in 11 Southern California counties train and compete in 12 Olympic-type summer and fall sports. There is no cost for athletes to participate in Special Olympics and as participants in Special Olympics, athletes are able to get a health screening at major competitions through Healthy Athletes. Keeping athletes healthy so they can improve their ability to train and compete in Special Olympics is the key goal of the Healthy Athletes program.

Volunteer healthcare professionals and students provide podiatry, hearing, optometry, dental, dietary and fitness screenings in a welcoming environment.

This year’s 2014 Summer Games Invitational was a test-run for the 2015 World Games to be held in Los Angeles July 25-Aug. 2, 2015. This will be the largest sporting competition in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics. Seven thousand athletes and 3,000 coaches will be coming from 177 countries. Twenty-six sports will be hosted at venues including USC, UCLA, Griffith Park, the L.A. Convention Center and CSULB. Thirty thousand volunteers and 500,000 spectators will make this a memorable sporting event for the athletes. Volunteer registration is now open at Supporters are urged to sign up today.

Submitted by Kim VILLA

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