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World Games Experience Underway

Kentucky World Games Participants Departed Sept. 25 & 26

A year's worth of preparation, training and anxious waiting finally came to an end this week for the 15 athletes and eight coaches who will be representing Kentucky as part of Team USA at the 207 Special Olympics World Summer Games finally boarded their planes to start their journey to China.

The Kentucky delegation departed in two groups after a whirlwind week that saw send-off ceremonies for basketball players from Bowling Green and Owensboro. Those athletes and their coaches all departed on Tuesday Sept. 25 from Louisville headed to Los Angeles. There the basketball team met up with other Team USA athletes and traveled to Beijing on Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Departure 9/25
Special Olympics Kentucky President and CEO Dave Kerchner (center) talked to the World Games basketball team before they departed for China.

The remaining athletes and coaches (bowling, gymnastics, equestrian, track and field and swimming) had to wait an extra day to start their trip, but they did spend their last night in Kentucky before heading to the Games, being served in style courtesy of Special Olympics Kentucky Year-Round Partner Texas Roadhouse. They were hosted at a fantastic going-away dinner at the company's Outer Loop location in Louisville the night before they took off.

The second group of athletes also went from Louisville to Los Angeles to meet up with other Team USA members. That contingent will head to Shanghai directly form Los Angeles.

Departure 9/26
(From left) Gymnastics coach Mary Fehrenbach,swimmer Kyle Gathof, gymnast Lee Dockins, swimming coach Jan Krekel and Melissa Hardison of the Special Olympics office make their way through the airport of the second day of the team's departure.

All of the athletes will spend some time in China as part of the Host Town program before the games begin, staying with families in Beijing and Shanghai, acclimating to their new environment and shaking off the jet lag of the 13-hour flight. All of Team USA will reunite in Shanghai ahead of the Opening Ceremonies for the Games which will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

The 2007 World Summer Games will be held Oct. 2-11, 2007 in Shanghai, China. These will be only the second World Summer Games Special Olympics has ever held outside the United States (2003 – Dublin, Ireland). The Games will bring together more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 169 countries and every continent. Competition will be held in 24 sports. More than 40,000 volunteers and 3,500 Games officials are also expected to take part.

For more information about the Special Olympics Kentucky delegation that will be taking part in the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games, contact Mark Buerger at 800-633-7403 or via e-mail at mbuerger@soky.org.


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