Minister pays tribute to special athletes

| 09/06/2010

(CNS): As the Special Olympic National Games and Week of Awareness continues today in the pool, government officials have released the address made by the sports minister at the opening event. Mark Scotland paid tribute to the athletes who he said “train silently, pushing personal limits and overcoming physical challenges,” and are the true winners. The special athletes will be competing in aquatic events this evening at 5:30 pm at the Lions Pool while on thursday players take to the basketball courts in the First Baptist Church Hall. The closing ceremony is set for Friday, 5:00 p.m. at the Camana Bay Arts and Recreation Centre.

 
Minister Mark Scotland’s opening address for the 2010 Special Olympic National Games:
Sports have forever given us heroes – people we can idolise and regard as role models. From Bryan Lara to Usain Bolt – we admire athletes for their devotion, tenacity and passion. We follow their triumphs, trials and tribulations as if they were our own, because through them we experience the joy of accomplishment and the pain of defeat.
 
But even as these international sport champions stir us, they are not the only competitors to merit our admiration, praise and respect. Many times the true heroes are those ordinary athletes who train silently, pushing personal limits and overcoming physical challenges in order to walk out on the field with pride. To me, these are the true winners – competitors who have the courage to turn the impossible into the doable—and all through sheer determination.
 
All the athletes before me today have passed that test, and you are therefore already victors. Your Olympic oath “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” embodies the commitment and courage that you display every time you compete—rightly earning our respect and admiration. Moreover, the dedication and perseverance you display make you positive role models for all our young people.
 
And so today we celebrate your special talents. You are the doers, the achievers who recognized a challenge and did something about it, and we commend you for that.
 
On another level, this week’s performances are sure to show us once again how sports can unlock hidden potential, uplifting others beside those who compete.
 
I accordingly congratulate the Special Olympics Cayman Islands for committing to this unique sports programme. For the past 21 years you have opened doors and changed lives as you made it possible for our Special Olympians to compete around the world.
 
I also thank the many coaches and other volunteers for their tireless efforts. Our athletes shone at this year’s Special Olympics Latin American Regional Games in Puerto Rico, bringing home thirteen medals, seven of them gold. While we are very proud of their performances, we know that they could not have achieved such success without your priceless support.
 
I wish coaches and athletes only the best as you prepare for the 2011 Special Olympics Summer World Games in Greece.
 
But for now, I happily look forward to an entire week of local competition. I know it will be an experience that will certainly uplift, empower and move us and so I urge the entire community to come out this week and be inspired by our athletes and their families.
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