Closer event will have benefits


Wairarapa's Special Olympics coach is thrilled New Zealand's largest event for people with intellectual disabilities will be held a stone's throw away from Wairarapa.

The Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games 2017, are set to be held in Wellington, bringing huge benefits to Wairarapa.

Special Olympics Wairarapa head coach Gaylene van Wijk said the proximity of the games would make it easier for Wairarapa athletes to participate.

"It definitely opens up huge opportunities for all our athletes and their families," Mrs van Wijk said.

"For all the training they put in it's nice to have it so close so all their family members can see them compete."

The event is expected to bring in about $1.5 million to the Wellington economy but Mrs van Wijk said Wairarapa could also benefit financially.

"If there's any sort of pressure accommodation-wise I'd say we'd benefit.

"Wairarapa isn't that far away from Wellington so we will be pushing that barrier, if you want a more relaxed time [to] come and stay in Wairarapa."

Special Olympics Wairarapa have 35 athletes, made up of tenpin bowlers and swimmers. Mrs van Wijk said she was hoping to increase the numbers for the upcoming Special Olympics.

"By 2017 I'd say that we'll have double the number and a few more sports that we can offer.

"I would say that being so close we would have to take at least 60 athletes down."

She said Special Olympics Wairarapa would be supporting Wellington by sending volunteers.

"We as regions all help out so [we will] definitely be having volunteers that will help out with athletes.

Special Olympics Wairarapa have 55 volunteers and the numbers are growing, Mrs van Wijk said.

She said she is looking forward to the opportunities the games will bring to Wairarapa.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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