Cheered on by a loud and enthusiastic crowd at the iconic Olympiastadion Berlin — a stage that has hosted the 2006 FIFA World Cup final and currently serves as the home of Hertha Berlin SC — a 255 member strong India contingent walked on for the Special Olympics World Games on Saturday.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Chairman Special Olympics Timothy Shriver were among the key attendees for an opening ceremony that featured local and international musical talent and a brilliant choreography display. Special Olympics Bharat has always prided itself on its diversity, reach and success at the quadrennial World Games and the ones kicking off in Berlin are no different. It will be the turn of a new batch of athletes to make their performances their own and use the stage to make friends and everlasting memories.
India’s delegation was led by roller skater Aryan Nagalli, one of the most promising athletes part of the contingent for the World Games 2023.
As a child, Nagalli was denied a chance to participate in a roller-skating competition due to his being a special needs athlete. It was a rejection that spurred his parents to establish a roller-skating academy that caters to over 70 skaters, many of them with intellectual disabilities or physically impaired. As for young Aryan, he is among the most decorated athletes at the state level right now.
Alongwith Nagalli, three more athletes from three different parts of the country led the line for the Indian contingent — handball player Ankush Kumar, from Delhi, athlete Geetanjali Nagvelar from Goa and cyclist Kalpana Jena from Odisha.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Shriver invoked the contributions of his mother, Eunice Kennedy-Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics movement and said that Berlin would serve as the ‘perfect stage to break down barriers. “Over the past few years, through the pandemic we have experienced how inhuman it is to separate people from one another, ” he said. “These Games give us the chance to become Unbeatable Together.”
Special Olympics Bharat organized a Send-off ceremony for the athletes and coaches departing on 12th June for the Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Berlin Germany from 17-25 June 2023. 198 Athletes and Unified partners and 57 Coaches will participate in 16 Sports. The Special Olympics World Games are the world’s largest inclusive sporting event which will be a colourful celebration promoting recognition and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Berlin will welcome 7000 Athletes and Unified partners across 190 delegations to participate in 26 sports.
The Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 will be broadcast to hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, showcasing athletic performance and highlighting stereotype-defying stories – changing minds and opening hearts through transformational inclusion.
The official mascot of the world games is called ‘Unity’, the mascot a name chosen by Special Olympics athletes from around the world and whose heart shape was inspired by the official logo of the World Games that symbolizes togetherness and affection. The World Games Berlin 2023 motto is “unbeatable together,” and that spirit infused is infused in the mascot.