LOS ANGELES —
From table tennis to handball. Special Olympics athletes have given it their best, and some will take home medals.
Irish athlete Carole Catling earned a gold for table tennis, and table tennis player Olowoyuni Sunday won a gold in his division. His coach, Olawuyi Amoo, says it took practice.
“We come from Nigeria," Amoo said. "And before we came for this program, we made a provision where these athletes came for five weeks to train them toward these world games. And I think this is the dividend of the training.”
A 27-year-old Panamanian bowler, Casandra Barletta, is here with her family. Her brother, Rafael, says she has the skill and focus to excel in her sport.
“Thankfully, she's very good at it," Rafael Barletta said. "She has competed in a lot of competitions around the world, and also in Panama, national and globally, and she has done very well.”
But it's not all about winning. Canadian bocce coach Dona Cade says what motivates these athletes with intellectual disabilities is the thrill of competition and sense of pride.
“They've worked hard the whole year to get here, getting themselves as fit as they can," Cade said. "And it just means everything to be representing your country.”
More than 6,000 athletes from 165 countries have participated in sports from aquatics to power lifting, and this week of competition has let them show the world what they can do.
The competition wraps up Saturday, and the closing ceremony for the athletes will be held Sunday night.