Hungary won 81 medals at the Special Olympics
Hungary represented itself in 14 out of the 25 Olympic sporting disciplines; 58 athletes participated altogether. **** Among others, our table tennis, badminton, and tennis players had as huge a success as our athletes, while, after 12 years, the basketball team has won the gold medal again.
Despite being a grandiose event, the Special Olympics Movement and the Olympic games are less known in Hungary. This year more than 6500 sportspeople participated in the games from 165 different countries, and 30.000 volunteers made sure that all 500.000 spectators could watch the events undisturbed.
A little bit of history – where did the Special Olympic Movement come from?
The Special Olympics International (S.O.I.), the movement’s international organization, was founded in 1968, in Washington D.C. The founders’ aim was to provide every disabled person over the age of eight with the opportunity to train and do some sports during the whole year. In light of this, the Special Olympics World Games is the most prominent event within this category, organized every two years.
Apart from the Games, there are several smaller – international, regional, and national –competitions; and there are Summer and Winter Special Olympic Games, too. Another goal of the S.O.I. is to enhance the social acceptance of the mentally disabled. By organizing sports events, the organization wants to demonstrate that special Olympians are just like us: they are able to fight with determination, crave success, and can reach it regardless of their disability.
Since its establishment 47 years ago, the movement has been constantly growing: today this worldwide community counts 4 and a half million sportspeople from 170 countries. Special sports are maintained and sponsored by several volunteers (including coaches) and companies, including multinational corporations like The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company, or the P&G.
The Los Angeles competition was the 24th in line, but the third Special Olympic Games were also held there in 1972, and the first one was hosted by Chicago, in 1968.
Our home field – about the Special Olympics Hungary (MSOSZ)
The MSOSZ Hungary plans and carries out every activity related to special sports since 1989; it holds coach training seminars and participates at international conferences. The association’s 3 full-time employees, the governing board, the 25-member committee, and the heads of the divisions are all volunteers without whom the 21 sporting disciplines available in Hungary could not be maintained.
It was in 1990 that the first MSOSZ delegation represented itself in any bigger international competition. The association was promoted by the participation of numerous successful sportspeople and well-known media personalities in integrated representative matches. One of them is Kriszta D. Tóth, who visited the latest Games as a supporter.
1. The movement’s slogan is “Everyone’s a winner!” and it works like this in reality as well. The winners of the first three prizes get medals but the others are also invited to the podium and get a ranking ribbon, so everybody can share in the success. This practice is reinforced by the athlete’s pledge: “Please, let me win; but if I cannot, let me fight bravely!”
2. There’s no entrance fee – those who are interested and wish to cheer can do so for free, and no accredited event is allowed to charge a registration fee to sportsmen as a requirement for participation.
3. The Special Olympic Movement is the only sport association in the world which can possess the word “Olympic” in its name without being a member of the International Olympic Committee. This was authorized by the IOC in 1988.
4. Apart from the well-known Olympic and Paralympic Games there are special Deaflympics as well every 4 years. The competitions organized since 1924 are available for people with hearing impaired. These need to be carried out separately because there is no separate Paralympic category for deaf athletes.
Written by Kamilla Drubina.
Translated by Mária Kenesei.