The Special Olympics World Games, also known as Special Olympiad, are an international sporting event for participants with intellectual disabilities, organized by the IOC-recognized Special Olympics organization. From June 17 to 25, the Special Olympics World Games took place in Berlin. Representatives with various disabilities (almost 7,000 athletes) competed in 26 sports. The Kateryna Biloruska Foundation ensured the participation of the Ukrainian national team and athletes from Cyprus in this large-scale event.
The official delegation from Ukraine consisted of 36 people from different regions. In total, Ukrainians took part in 7 sports:
- artistic gymnastics;
- table tennis;
The Foundation’s team visited the World Games to meet with the athletes, support them, and show the importance of supporting sports for people with disabilities.
“It is a great honor for me to support the athletes and coaches of the Special Olympics of Ukraine and Cyprus at this largest inclusive event in the world. At such moments, I feel more than ever that the development and accessibility of sports for everyone is an important element of a healthy and harmonious society. That is what the Foundation works for every day,”
said Kateryna Biloruska, the founder of the Foundation.
The first gold medals of the Ukrainian team:
- Andriy Karasichenko from Kharkiv won a gold medal for the national team in freestyle swimming (50 meters).
- Kateryna Hryshchenko won the second medal in table tennis. Her coach is Volodymyr Tkachenko.
- We congratulate our badminton players Anna Sapon and Stepan Sinyukov on their gold medals!
- Yelyzaveta Ilienko won a silver medal in the long jump, and Valentyn Novosad won a bronze medal.
- To support her friend Oleksandr Khorunzhak, who took 4th place in the boules competition, Olya Kibkalo fought hard and got the long-awaited silver medal. Her coach is Ihor Velychko.
The Kateryna Biloruska Foundation signed a memorandum with the Special Olympics of Ukraine NGO in May 2023. This cooperation will expand assistance to children with disabilities.
The achievements of Cyprus
The Foundation has been supporting the Cyprus Special Olympics since January 2023. In cooperation, we opened a horseback riding group for children with mental disabilities.
For the World Games, the Foundation took a young athlete Niki Theodorou under its care as part of the Adopt an Athlete project and ensured her participation in the Special Olympics in Berlin this year. The Foundation covers the costs of travel, accommodation, and participation in the Special Olympics World Games so that she can become one step closer to her dream.
According to the Cyprus Special Olympic Federation, athlete Niki Theodorou claimed a gold medal in the hoop routine, and silver in the rope routine, while securing fourth place in clubs and sixth place in the ribbon.
Furthermore, in rhythmic gymnastics, Lucia Georgiou secured a gold medal in the rope routine, silver in clubs, and bronze in ribbon and hoop.
Christina Michael won the bronze medal in the swimming competition, specifically in the 50m breaststroke event. Athletes Andri Kakousi, Petros Kalamara, Vasilis Christodoulou, and Myrofora Napoli won the silver medal in the team event in bowling.
In boules, Orthodoxos Loukas finished sixth in his first participation in the event.
Cyprus has been taking part in the World Special Olympic Games 2023 with a delegation of 35 athletes and 14 coaches, a delegation leader and his assistant, and a team doctor.
Meeting with the Kennedy family
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of US President John F. Kennedy, initiated the Special Olympics movement. In 1957, she became the head of the Joseph F. Kennedy Foundation, which developed sports programs for disabled children with intellectual disabilities to help them rehabilitate and integrate into society. Over the years, more than three million people from 180 countries have joined the Special Olympics movement.
The founder Kateryna Biloruska, the director of the foundation Anzhela Fokina and the foundation representative in Ukraine Vadym Misyura took part in the presentation event, which members of the Kennedy family and representatives of all national chapters attended.
We also presented an embroidered shirt to Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Board of Special Olympics.
What is the Special Olympics?
The Special Olympics was established in 1968 in the United States as an organization for the support and sports development of people with intellectual disabilities, in particular through competitions from regional to international levels.
It is an international organization that organizes sports events for people with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics are held every 4 years and are divided into winter and summer.
The main goal of the Special Olympics is to change the attitude of the community toward 190 million people with intellectual disabilities and to provide an opportunity to feel valued members of society around the world.