Thu, 31 May 2012 23:34:32 GMT — More than 3500 athletes and coaches, along with friends and family from across Missouri are in Columbia. With training and competitions in 21 Olympics style sports throughout the world, athletes in the special Olympics push hard and play harder. With nearly 4 million athletes in more than 170 countries more than 15 thousand of them are here in Missouri. Some of those 15 thousand have been preparing for The Special Olympics Missouri State Summer games. (Ben Stewart- Special Olympics) "Athletes that compete in the State summer games compete at the local level, the area level, the regional and then the district level before they are actually prepared or qualified to compete at State Summer games so they train for months" There are nearly 1000 coaches that volunteer throughout the state each year. Jaime Janes has been coaching the Kirksville special Olympics team for 17 years. She said, "The thing that I find most rewarding about being a coach in the Special Olympics is seeing the excitement, the competitiveness but yet the sportsmanship that many of the athletes show everyday in their lives plus on the court." The Special Olympics is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Jaime told us, "Two of my first athletes when we were in 6th grade we started together and they are 29 and still with me so thatâ??s been a lot of fun." Jaime's full-court modified team won the bronze medal in their division. Adam Marino, an athlete expressed, "I'm so happy I made alot of shots, this guy here is on fire." The Summer games consist of 6 sports. Basketball, Aquatics, Bowling, power-lifting, volleyball as well as track and field Millions of lives have been touched and enriched. The 2012 special Olympics Missouri state summer games is the first of a four year term in the city of Columbia. These are not the only games held throughout the year. You can get a schedule of events at www.somo.org.
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