Special Olympics World Games 2015

July 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

People all over the world have turned their attention to the city of Los Angeles, where the 2015 Special Olympics World Games are now underway.

The international event, drawing 7,000 athletes, representing 165 countries and as many as 500,000 visitors, was founded in 1968 by Eunice Shriver Kennedy to give athletes with intellectual disabilities – like Down Syndrome and Autism related disorders – the opportunity to compete in Olympic-style events such as cycling, kayaking, swimming and soccer.

Lea este artículo en Español: Un Recorrido por los Juegos Olímpicos Especiales 2015

Delegations from all over the globe were welcomed to the World Games by hosts towns – from San Luis Obispo to San Diego — that put on special events and tours to give athletes a taste of local culture.

Angelenos are encouraged to attend the athletic competitions – all free and open to the public –being held at numerous local venues through Aug. 2.

To get more information about the competitions (locations and times) visit: http://www.la2015.org/daily-competition-schedule

EGP has compiled photos that captured the journey to Gold and the local celebrations that led to the competitions.

The Torch Run
Lincoln Heights
Special Olympics athlete Brett Larza (left) carries the Flame of Hope with Arkansas Law Enforcement Officer Steve Hernandez July 23 during the final leg of the run to Lincoln Heights.  (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Special Olympics athlete Brett Larza (left) carries the Flame of Hope with Arkansas Law Enforcement Officer Steve Hernandez July 23 during the final leg of the run to Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Boyle Heights
Future athletes are all smiles as they meet a Special Olympics torch runner during stop Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.  (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Future athletes are all smiles as they meet a Special Olympics torch runner during stop Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Pre-Game Celebrations
Monterey Park 
Members of the German delegation competing in the Special Olympics World Games were not shy about sharing their dance moves during the Monterey Park Host Town art and music festival July 23.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Members of the German delegation competing in the Special Olympics World Games were not shy about sharing their dance moves during the Monterey Park Host Town art and music festival July 23. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Cal State Los Angeles
The Mark Keppel High School band and the cheer/drill team from San Gabriel High School performed for the German delegation during a pep rally Friday at Cal State LA. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The Mark Keppel High School band and the cheer/drill team from San Gabriel High School performed for the German delegation during a pep rally Friday at Cal State LA. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The Welcome
Opening Ceremonies for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games July 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a landmark that has served as a kickoff location for the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics.  (Photos by Special Olympics World Games 2015)

Opening Ceremonies for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games July 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a landmark that has served as a kickoff location for the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics. (Special Olympics World Games 2015)

The Competition
Athletes from Mexico, China and Hungary had their eyes on the gold medal during a roller skating competition at the convention center Sunday.  (Photos by Special Olympics World Games 2015)

Athletes from Mexico, China and Hungary had their eyes on the gold medal during a roller skating competition at the convention center Sunday. (Special Olympics World Games 2015)

The Victory
Triathletes from the United States, Uruguay and Costa Rica receive medals Sunday after placing in the first ever Special Olympics World Games triathlon competition held at Alamitos Beach. (Triathletes from the United States, Uruguay and Costa Rica receive medals Sunday after placing in the first ever Special Olympics World Games triathlon competition held at Alamitos Beach. Triathletes from the United States, Uruguay and Costa Rica receive medals Sunday after placing in the first ever Special Olympics World Games triathlon competition held at Alamitos Beach.

Triathletes from the United States, Uruguay and Costa Rica receive medals Sunday after placing in the first ever Special Olympics World Games triathlon competition held at Alamitos Beach. (Special Olympics World Games 2015)

 

To see more photos visit our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/EGPNews/photos_stream?tab=photos_albums
Fore more information about the World Games 2015 visit www.la2015.org

Special Olympics Arrive in L.A.

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Seven thousand athletes from 165 countries, 2,000 coaches and thousands of volunteers and fans are getting ready to make history at the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world this year: the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

Opening ceremonies for the international competition are Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum, with athletic events taking place daily through Aug. 2 at venues across Los Angeles, host city for the World Games.

Lea este artículo en Español: Los Juegos Mundiales de Olimpiadas Especiales Llegan a Los Ángeles

Patrick McClenahan, president and chief executive for the 2015 World Games, said Monday he’s been impressed by the “remarkable” and “incredible community engagement” he’s seen preparing for this “circle of acceptance and inclusion” in Los Angeles. It’s most inspiring, said the 20-year Special Olympics volunteer and proud father of a 28-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.

As thousands of athletes from all over the world began to arrive in Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, the organization on Monday celebrated its 47th Anniversary with a cake and the singing of Happy Birthday. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

As thousands of athletes from all over the world began to arrive in Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, the organization on Monday celebrated its 47th Anniversary with a cake and the singing of Happy Birthday. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Founded in 1968 by Eunice Shriver Kennedy and first held in Chicago, the Special Olympics World Games give athletes with intellectual disabilities — like Down Syndrome or Autism-related disorders — the opportunity to showcase their athletic skills in Olympic-style events, including swimming, track and field and cycling.

“Nothing is impossible, that’s my personal motto,” Special Olympics gold medalist Debbie Anderson said Monday at a news conference.

The thirty-seven-year-old Orange County resident has been involved with the Special Olympics for 17 years, competing in bocce, bowling, track and field and gymnastics. Today, she represents Southern California as a 2015 World Games board member.

“It is so amazing to see so many athletes showing the world what they can do,” said Anderson, explaining to EGP that years ago she was afraid to take part in gymnastics and other sports, but today is excited to show she can do “almost anything.”

Special Olympics estimates there are approximately 200 million individuals in the world today with intellectual disabilities and that globally, each year, about 4.4 million of them compete in Special Olympics accredited events.

Starting this weekend, athletes will compete in 25 different sport contests ranging from from sailing, to softball to volleyball, judo, soccer, tennis, equestrian, and powerlifting, among others.

It’s been 16 years since the World Games were last held in the United States and bringing the international event to Los Angeles is expected to be an economic win for the city.

In 2009, then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pushed to bring the World Games to the city, winning the bid two years later.

With as many as 500,000 people expected to attend the World Games, stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants and to visit tourist spots and to shop, Los Angeles could see more than $400 million added to the local economy, said Villaraigosa, a member of the LA2015 organizing committee.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for this city, a city where people come from every corner of the earth,” Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa said it was a great idea to be part of this historic moment to “celebrate our diversity today.”

Los Angeles is “the city of miracles, hopes and dreams; a city like no other,” said the former mayor.

As mayor, “my job was to promote a city that I was born in and where my grandma came to one hundred years ago,” he said. “As a result, the city will lead the way for these athletes to show their talents.”

While Los Angeles is the primary host for the event, there are 85 host towns from San Diego to San Luis Obispo that will house and entertain one or more international delegations of athletes in the days leading up to the main event. The time allows athlete to acclimate to the local climate, and to experience the local culture before moving to the designated Special Olympics housing at UCLA and USC.

On Tuesday evening, Cal State Los Angeles hosted a welcome reception for the Germany delegation, whose athletes are staying in host towns Lincoln Heights, Monterey Park and Alhambra until Friday.

Today Thursday, as part of the Law Enforcement Special Olympics Torch Run, athletes and officers running with the “Flame of Hope” will make stops at Lincoln Park (Mission and Main Streets, Lincoln Heights), between 8:15 and 9:25 a.m., and at Mariachi Plaza/Metro Gold Line station in Boyle Heights between 12:25 and 1:25 p.m.

On Friday, host towns Monterey Park, Alhambra and Lincoln Heights will hold a Pep Rally in the gymnasium at Cal State LA.

The United States’ delegation — 300 athletes strong — on Wednesday moved into dormitories at the University of California Riverside, said the delegation’s spokesperson, Leigh T. Cheatham.

However, the event got off to a rocky start Tuesday for some international delegates, with hundreds of athletes and coaches being forced to sleep on a gym floor at Loyola Marymount University due to transportation delays.

Special Olympics officials said about 1,500 athletes and coaches who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday arrived late, leading to backups at the check-in center at LMU in Westchester. By the end of the night, buses weren’t available to carry the delegations to their respective host cities.

Athletes and coaches from Norway, Mexico and England were among those left stranded. Some said there wasn’t enough food available for the people who were stuck at the university, and the Red Cross was brought in to help out.

By mid-day Wednesday, all the delegates were on their way to their host cities, according to Special Olympic officials.

With the exception of the Opening Ceremonies, all of the events are free and open to the public; parking is $12.

The Opening Ceremony will include the lighting of the Olympic Flame: First Lady Michelle Obama will officially open the games. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Gov. Jerry Brown will serve as honorary hosts.

The Special Olympics World Games will be aired on ESPN and across the world in 70 different languages.

The 2015 Special Olympics World Games is the biggest sporting event to hit Los Angeles since the 1984 Summer Olympic Games when field hockey was played at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Special Olympics: Getting Around Town

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When plans for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles were first announced, there were dire predictions of massive traffic delays and citywide gridlock: neither of which occurred.

Years of preparation and extensive use of public transportation led to what media outlets labeled the “traffic miracle.”

Transportation officials are hoping for the same results as hundreds of thousands of visitors make their way to Los Angeles this week for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.

“Like 1984, we partnered with a public transportation agency,” said Steven R. Vanderpool, senior vice president of the Special Olympics World Games. “But we have an [added] advantage. There are now nearly 100 miles of train lines that did not exist in 1984.”

The five venues used during the 2015 Special Olympic World Games July 25-August 2 will be accessible by Metro rail and buses.  (METRO)

The five venues used during the 2015 Special Olympic World Games July 25-August 2 will be accessible by Metro rail and buses. (METRO)

On Monday, Metro – the official transit provider for the World Games – announced that its rail and bus services would be in full swing during the weeklong international sporting event.

The agency plans to deploy additional rail, buses and staff throughout Los Angeles and Long Beach to accommodate the half a million spectators expected to attend the World Games from July 25 through Aug. 2.

“We plan to monitor service and adjust it if necessary,” said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. “We have the experience…and flexibility to deploy trains to meet the needs of these events.”

The World Games were created to promote the acceptance and inclusions of people with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics World Games will be the biggest event to hit Los Angeles since the ’84 Games.

Competitions will be held in Downtown Los Angeles, Encino, Griffith Park, Long Beach, and at UCLA and USC.

“The venues were chosen because they are first-class facilities, which have hosted events before and many are at USC and UCLA so athletes will not have to leave campus to compete,” said Vanderpool. “They are [also] accessible via public transportation.”

Service on the Metro Expo Line will be expanded starting Saturday to help transport the thousands of spectators expected to attend the Opening Ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Trains will be longer to increase occupancy to 700 people per trip, in each direction. That day, trains will run every six minutes. Passengers will be able to get off at the Expo Park/USC Station for the short walk to the Coliseum.

Games such as basketball and aquatics held on the USC campus will also be accessible at the stop.

The Los Angeles Convention Center and Lucky Strike at L.A. Live will serve as venues for games such as bowling and powerlifting. Metro riders on the Expo Line or Blue Line can get off at the Pico Station to attend those events.

The Balboa Sports Center in Encino will host 7-a-team soccer games. The venue will be accessible via the Orange Busway Line, which transfers from the Red Line in Hollywood.

Alamitos Beach in Long Beach will host sailing and the triathlon. The various beach venues can be reached on the Blue Line, and exiting at the 1st Street Station.

The UCLA campus can be reached by taking the 710 and 734 Metro Rapid buses. The school campus will host gymnastics, judo and other games.

Metro does not have direct transportation via its rail lines or rapid buses to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center or the Wilson & Harding Golf Course in Griffith Park, where equestrian and golf events will be hosted. However, Metro recommends people headed to those events take the 94 and 794 buses to reach the venues.

In addition to more frequent and reliable trains, late night service will also be extended until 2 a.m. on July 25, July 31 and August 1.

“In 1984, Los Angeles County didn’t have any rail lines and officials resorted to scare tactics to keep people of the road,” said Sortero. “Fortunately we are now in a much better position to carry people to venues.”

For technically savvy commuters, the Go Metro app will be updated to feature a Special Olympics map highlighting stations near World Games venues.

TAP cards commemorating the Special Olympics World Games are also available for purchase at vending machines.

 

For specific competition schedules, visit www.LA2015.org.

Sports by Venue

1.Downtown L.A. (L.A. Convention Center/L.A. Live): badminton, bocce, bowling, handball, powerlifting, roller skating and table tennis.

2.Encino (Balboa Sports Centers): 7-a-side soccer

3.Griffith Park (L.A. Equestrian Center/Wilson & Harding Golf Courses): equestrian and golf

4.Long Beach (Alamitos Beach): beach volleyball, half marathon, kayaking, open water swimming, sailing and triathlon.

5.UCLA (various): gymnastics, judo, 5-a-side soccer, 11-a-side soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.

6.USC (various): aquatics, athletics and basketball

 

Special Olympics Go Local

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Several local events are planned to bring the Special Olympics right into local communities, with special events, including the Law Enforcement Torch Run, during which athletes and police officers will carry the “Flame of Hope” to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, making stops along the way in Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles City Hall and the Hall of Justice;

 Thursday, July 23

8:15-9:15am—Torch Run: El ARCA in Lincoln Heights: 3839 Selig Pl, L.A. 90031. Join Councilman Gil Cedillo, Special Olympic athletes and Hollenbeck Police officers for a special ceremony welcoming the World Games to L.A.

11am—Torch Run: Mariachi Plaza/Metro Gold Line Station in Boyle Heights: 1825 E. 1st St. LA 90033. Councilman Jose Huizar and other officials to take part in Torch Run ceremony that starts at 12:15 p.m.

1:30-4:30—Monterey Park Host City Welcome to German Delegates: Free arts & music festival at Barnes Park Amphitheater as part of Monterey Parks Host Town activates. Park is located at 350 S. McPherrin Ave, Monterey Park, CA, 91754. For more info, call (626) 307-1388.

 

Friday, July 24

11am-12pm—Torch Run: Los Angeles City Hall: 200 N. Spring St, LA 90012. Ceremony welcoming the Flame of Hope and Special Olympic Athletes to the city of the Angels.

11am: Pep Rally at Cal State LA. Join host town Lincoln Heights, Monterey Park and & Alhambra for rousing farewell to the Special Olympics German delegation. Band performances, cheerleaders and more. Location: CSULA Gymnasium.

12:10-1:10—Torch Run: Los Angeles County Hall of Justice: 211 W. Temple St, LA 90012. One of the final stops along the route to L.A. Memorial Coliseum for the official lighting of the Olympic Torch during the 2015 World Games Opening Ceremony.

 

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