We were incredibly proud to bring our 9th National Summer Games to our capital city for the very first time.
This event saw 1771 registered athletes and coaches from 43 clubs and 3 schools, 750 family and supporters and 500volunteers come together over 6 days to take part in New Zealand’s largest event for people with special capabilities. This event was 32 per cent larger than the 8th National Summer Games held in Dunedin four years ago.
We placed particular emphasis on making sure that there were no quotas in any of the 11 sports offered across our 10 venues. This meant that every athlete who qualified to attend the National Summer Games in their chosen sport was able to do so. This epitomises what Special Olympics is all about. Our youngest athlete, competing in swimming, was aged 9 and our oldest two athletes, competing in Ten Pin Bowling and lndoor Bowls, were 72!
It is part of our ethos to ensure that our athletes can compete in the best possible sports environments. The size and scale of this National Summer Games meant that we needed to use a range of high quality venues in Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Porirua. Additionally, our Equestrian competition was held at Manfeild Park in Feilding.
We are incredibly gratefuI to our amazing team of 50+volunteer clinicians who enabled the successfuI running of our healthy athletes programme for people with intellectual disabilities, which ran alongside our sports events. Free health screenings in Opening Eyes, Healthy Hearing, Fit Feet and SpeciaI Smiles, were offered to over 2,600 athletes and many were given Free prescription glasses and new hearing aids, all generously sponsored through the wonderfuI efforts of our dedicated clinicaI team.
Additionally, we were able to pilot a referral system for those athletes who presented with acute health requirements so that they were able to receive the specialist care they needed to improve their health and well-being. SpeciaI Olympics offers much more than just sport!
I cannot thank our corporate and community volunteers enough for the outstanding effort they gave to support our event. Of speciaI mention were the 80+ volunteers and family supporters from Datacom’s Wellington offices who very ably led all the information technology functions for our sports events using our Games Management System. This included the development of the competition schedules and the timely recording and circulation of all sports results. Coupled with this, Datacom generously offered new ideas and innovation for continuous improvement in the Future.
FMC lnsurance provided 63 staff volunteers to support the successfuI running of our Equestrian events in Feilding. Many of the FMC team had agricultural backgrounds and so they could slot into our environment with very little training. Like Datacom, the professionalism the FMC volunteers brought to our event was outstanding. Nga Tawa School not only wittingly provided horses from their Equestrian Academy for our competitions at Manfeild Park but also valuable votunteer support.
Staff from Sport New Zealand, the Todd Corporation, Kiwibank and many Lions and Rotary volunteers also provided tremendous community support across all our sports. We wish to extend a huge thank you to all our volunteers who gave so willingly of their time tocensure the smooth running of our event.
We set 5 key goals at the start of this event and I am very pleased that we achieved them all. Namely:
- To deliver an outstanding event in full, on time and on budget;
- To celebrate the outstanding achievements and sporting successes of our participating athtetes;
- To further progress our desire to build positive awareness and understanding across New Zealand of the meaning and purpose of Special Olympics.
- Through our event change public attitudes and build new community support for people with intellectual disabilities
- To leave a very positive Special Olympics legacy within the greater Wellington region and in Feilding for many years to come.
This was my 3rd National Summer Games and each time I encourage our team to aim for the stars. There is no better environment in my view that demonstrates what true sportsmanship is about. Showcasing and celebrating sporting success is a core aim but what will be more important will be the Fun, Friendship and camaraderie developed through sport, not only during Games Week but over a lifetime.
I wish to extend very special thanks to our extremely dedicated coaches, sports officials and volunteers who worked tirelessly with our athletes at community level to prepare them all so well for this event. Each person in the collective team played an important part behind the scenes in our Clubs and schools, from fundraising through to preparation of uniforms, travel and pastoral care. To the Families and care givers, a special thank you for your support. Our very grateful thanks to our incredible sponsors, suppliers and supporters who have provided in kind and investment support. We cannot run events of this size and scale without your ongoing commitment.
And finally to my staff and our contracted team who went beyond the call of duty to deliver our best National Summer Games on record. I am buoyed by the exceptional warmth and hospitality that the host communities have shown to us every step of the way. When we chose Wellington for our 9th National Summer Games, I knew this region would do us proud and there is absolutely no doubt that it delivered in spades to make this such a memorable experience for everyone involved. Thank you!
CEO – SPECIAL OLYMPICS NEW ZEALAND