PRE GAMES 2016 SCHLADMING, AUSTRIA
Heather Mills was invited as one of the official ambassador’s of the Special Olympics Österreich, attending as a VIP guest to the opening ceremony of the Pre-Games, Special Olympics in Schladming, Austria January 10th 2016.
Heather, was asked in 2014 by Special Olympics Österreich president, Hermann Kröll, to be a member and ambassador for the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 in Austria.
“I am honoured to be asked to be an ambassador for this organisation. Their work is so admirable. The Special Olympics creates opportunities by turning the seemingly unachievable into the achievable. Having an intellectual disability does not mean that you are unable to do sporting activities, compete in them and fulfil your dreams in life.”
Heather now holds a seat on the committee in Schladming and was delighted to join the crowds of people who attended the 2016 Pre-Games opening in the World Cup Stadium Planai on January 10th 2016.
1,100 athletes from 23 Nations, lit up the stadium with their excitement in participating in the opening of the Pre-Games.
For the athletes the Pre-Games are an important step on the way to the Special Olympics World Winter Games in March 2017 because, they must meet certain criteria, such as the participation in national and international events to qualify for these Special Olympics World Winter Games!
Each of the 23 Nations were assigned a special VIP to represent their country for the opening Pre-Games parade through the Planai Stadium.
Heather was chosen to represent and walk with the Swiss Team through the cheering supporters who were crowding the stadium.
In 1993, the Special Olympics World Winter Games opened for the first time in Schladming, Ramsau and Salzburg in Austria.
Special Olympics is a worldwide movement of people, which establishes a new world of inclusion and community, where each individual is accepted and included, irrespective of their abilities or disabilities. They help to make the world a better, happier and more joyful place.
Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. They are the world’s largest sports organisation for people with intellectual disabilities, with more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries and millions more volunteers and supporters. They are also a global social movement.
Special Olympics is the leading voice in raising awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics International was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968 and has its seat in Washington DC, USA. From these headquarters, Special Olympics International coordinates the national Special Olympics programmes.
The opening in Schladming was a spectacular affair. A traditional Austrian marching band along with a choir opened this grand ceremony. Fire-eaters and acrobats preluded the impressive 23 Nations Athletes parade.
In addition to all the activities and events, a very special pre-event took place.
The Olympic Torch carried through downtown Graz:
The lighting of the Torch has a very special meaning for the Olympics and Special Olympics. In the run-up to the Pre-Games, a small torch was lit and carried through Graz. The torch travelled on a 3KM round trip, ending it’s journey downtown by the Grazer.
Traditionally the event is run by the police and the police students, who accompany the Special Olympics athletes.