10 June, 2013 Simran Randhawa and Melodie Pok The 8th Special Olympics National Games, held over a period of four days from 31st May to 3rd June 2013, hosted a total of six sporting events – Bowling, Football, Aquatics, Badminton, Bocce and Athletics – at various venues around Singapore. Special Olympics National Games aims to provide sporting opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, encouraging them to gain self-confidence and engage socially with other athletes. Through sports participation, these athletes would also be able to develop and strengthen their physical and mental states as well. “I have been with the Special Olympics for almost 15 years and I’ve seen how it grows and how the athletes grow as well. Special Olympics, to me, is an opportunity for children who are intellectually-challenged to master sports,” expressed Suriani Soo, a volunteer from the Special Olympics. During the games, the athletes showed tremendous spirit and persevered through their difficulties to excel and exceed expectations. It was a truly heart-warming to see these athletes overcome obstacles to finish the games with genuine smiles and pure joy. Parents and volunteers alike surrounded the spectator stands at the various games venues to cheer the athletes on for the entire duration of the games. “These children can do wonders; they might be a bit slower in comprehending things but they can definitely do it,” said June Tak, a teacher from Lee Kong Chian Gardens. The games came to a successful end with the closing ceremony held at the newly renovated Suntec Convention Centre on the 3rd of June. Spotted amongst the crowd mingling with the athletes was none other than Guest-Of-Honour Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information. The event came to an end with a slideshow of photos compiled throughout the games, as well as an inspiring speech by Mr Lawrence Wong. “Athletes with special needs have always been underestimated. A lot of people don’t give them credit, but I think that these athletes with intellectually disabilities are far more cable than the credit they have been given,” expressed the President of Special Olympics Singapore, Dr Teo-Koh Sock Miang. With the curtains to the 2013 chapter of the Special Olympics National Games drawn on a high note, many are left to wonder what is to be anticipated for next year’s games.