Local athletes helped set the stage for the Special Olympic New Zealand National Summer Games in Wellington next month by taking part in a torch run through Kerikeri on Saturday morning.
A total of 15 local athletes representing the Bay of Islands Special Olympics organisation - which represents the Far North district on the national stage - accompanied members of local police and other services personnel who carried the torch from Proctor Library to the Pack House Market to promote the upcoming Summer Games.
The BOISO athletes will be competing in aquatic and equestrian events at the Summer Games, where they will feature in a field of 1300 other selected athletes representing the 44 Special Olympics clubs from across New Zealand. BOISO chairwoman Nicole Grimme said that "everyone" in the team, both competing and as support personnel, had been working and training really hard in the build up to the Summer Games.
"We are all really looking forward to the challenge of the competition, with the hope of bringing some of the prized medals back to the Bay Of Islands"
The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) at Kerikeri was one of two events held simultaneously on Saturday which officially began the build up for the Special Olympics NZ National Summer Games (NSG2017) in Wellington from November 27 to December 1.
The other event went ahead in Invercargill, with both torches moving from south and north respectively from region to region until they meet in Wellington on Friday, November 24, to officially get the Games underway.
The second day of the northern leg, which took place in Whangarei on Sunday, was hosted by the Special Olympics Whangarei Club.
* Held every four years, the Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games is the largest event for athletes with intellectual disabilities in New Zealand.
The games are run by Special Olympics New Zealand, which provides a year-round programme of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities (albeit noting this was a different organisation to Paralympics New Zealand, which supports people with physical disabilities to compete in elite international para sport events).
It will be the first time the games have been held in Wellington, where the Special Olympics movement began in New Zealand in 1983 (in Lower Hutt).
As well as offering a sporting competition, Special Olympics New Zealand will run Healthy Athletes Programmes during the games which will be delivered by more than 70 volunteer clinicians. Athletes will be offered the opportunity to take part in screenings focused on hearing and eye sight, dental care, podiatry and health promotion.
Details regarding the other dates and regions hosting the torch run ceremony featured in last Thursday's edition.