The 38th edition of Special Olympics Belgium (SOB) ended on Saturday in Louvain-la-Neuve.
This year’s events began on Thursday at the Blocry in Louvain-la-Neuve, Le Paradis Swimming Pool and the Gaston Reiff Stadium in Braine-l’Alleud.
A total of 2,737 athletes with disabilities took part, sharing 4,246 medals, some of which were handed over by Belgian Red Flame and Special Olympics Belgium ambassador Tessa Wullaert. Athlete Ismaël Debjani was also among the invitees.
The aim of Special Olympics Belgium is greater social inclusion for persons with disabilities both on and off the sports field. So far, 22 cities and communes have signed a Solidarity Charter in this regard.
At Saturday’s Closing Ceremony, the Flame of Hope was symbolically handed over to Malines, which will host next year’s games.
The 2023 edition will be held, as usual, during Ascension weekend. Along with the 16 adapted sports disciplines in which this year’s athletes competed, horsemanship, cycling and sailing will once again be on the programme, while hockey will be included for the first time ever. Golf and kayaking will be demonstration events.
SOB Director-General Zehra Sayin was honoured for her last edition of the Games. She hands over the torch to An Caers.
“The greatest success this year has been, once again, the shining faces, the enthusiasm of the athletes, the incredible commitment of the volunteers and the solidarity,” SOB Director Eddy Beckers said. “That’s what makes the Games an exceptional event.”
“These Games have been a big success,” said Zehra Sayin. “Sport, inclusion, humility, determination, and respect have been at the core of these past four days. We’ve been able to touch hearts, change mentalities, break taboos,” she concluded.
The Special Olympics World Games will be held in Berlin from 17 to 25 June 2023, with Belgium represented by 87 athletes.