The Swedish six part mini series “Heja Sverige” is currently playing on Swedish TV4.
We have below a story from Swedish Press LA correspondent Birgitta Lauren. She spoke to some of the leaders and atheletes during the recent Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
From left to right: Gabriel Wikström, Swedish Minister for Public Health, Healthcare and Sports; a Special Olympics athelete; Jonaton Sandberg, Sports Director Special Olympics; and Gudrun Giddings, President/Chair of SACC-LA.
Special Olympics in Los Angeles
By Birgitta Lauren
The recent Special Olympics took place with a 60 athlete strong team from Sweden. Troup leader and Sports Director Jonatan Sandberg, explained how the intellectually disabled athletes ages 16-50 are nominated, chosen and get about a year to plan and practice their sport. They bring all athletes together in “pre-camps” to create a synergistic camaraderie. This togetherness as a group creates an unusual sense of belonging for these sometimes isolated people. Both their activity and new nutritional habits have very positive physical and mental effects that are priceless in regards to their health. One even stopped smoking. They love the attention they have getting here, but it is so much deeper than winning gold. Their most treasured accomplishments are their new friendships as they all support each other and the satisfaction and pride in themselves that they have the opportunity and fortitude to participate in the Special Olympics. The motto of the Special Olympics is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”.
Birgitta Lauren and Jonaton Sandberg
23 year old Elin Valborg, has been involved in shot put, mini for 6 years mentioned what an amazing experience this has been for her. Simon Martinson, 28, competes in the 800 and 1,500 meter sprint and finds participating in the Special Olympics so exciting. His favorite sport at home is orientation in the forest. Simon won Bronze in the 800m. Amanda Hidvegi, 18 competing in shotput, long jump and Relay, joined the Special Olympics to be able to come and see Los Angeles. She won Gold in Long Jump.
At the closing ceremony the Bjurling family (Sister Sandra, mom and dad Annette and Lars) celebrated Rasmus winning gold in golf for Sweden. 34 total Gold medals did go to Sweden of which 4 went to Judo athlete Daniel Anglén.
Maria Montazami with a Special Olympics athlete.