While all the excitement builds for the Olympic Games in London in just a few weeks’ time, a number of kayakers are training for another event – the Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics provide training and competition programmes for children and adults with intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities, principally somebody with an IQ of 75 or lower.
The next edition of these games takes place in 2015 – in Los Angeles, home to two Olympic Games.
Kayaking was a demonstration sport at the World Summer Games in Dublin and is now a “recognised sport” at the Special Olympics though not yet part of the official programme, and some 55 competitors took part in canoe-based activities at the highly successful event held in Athens last year.
More than 7,500 athletes from 180 countries took part. The kayaking competition course was set up to ICF rules though only 6 of the 9 lanes were used.
Anna Hemmings, two-time Olympic canoeist and multiple marathon World Champion has been an ambassador for the Special Olympics for about three years.
She told the FemaleFirst website: “These people can be quite excluded and can’t participate alongside the regular kids; well it’s not just kids. The Special Olympics is about kids and adults or anyone with any kind of learning disability can get support from the Special Olympics.
“It’s a volunteer charity and there are about 135 local registered clubs and groups around the country and they reach out to at least 8,000 people in the UK.”
(Picture credit: International Canoe Federation)