Press Release

First ever Special Olympics European Unified Sailing Regatta in Rotterdam a big success!

Rachel Richardson | May 23, 2016 | Europe Eurasia: Netherlands
The Opening Ceremony of the European Unified Sailing Regatta on the 13th of May was unforgettable for all the competing athletes and visitors. The 15 European teams were officially guided to the Opening Ceremony thanks to the volunteers of Torch Run Netherlands.

The teams were guided by the Police and Fire brigade who had their sirens and flashing lights on, making it a very impressive entrance. During the Parade of Athletes you could see the joy on the faces of the athletes; they were the centre of the attention! After various speeches the Flame of Hope arrived over the water in a Police boat. The Regatta was officially opened after the raising of the Special Olympics flag, announcing the oath and lighting the Flame of Hope.
Competition During the weekend the teams were active on Level III according to the Special Olympics definition; every boat had two athletes with intellectual disabilities (unified athletes) and one athletes without intellectual disabilities (unified partner) who was only allowed to give verbal instructions. It was quite a challenge for the athletes due to gusts of wind, gale force 5, turning winds and cold temperatures. However it got the best out of the athletes; in an equal way it only made the competition better and more exciting! In the evening the athletes were rewarded for their efforts; they went for a cruise through the Port of Rotterdam whilst having a bite to eat and dancing off all the excitement of the day. The Greek team even did the Sirtaki so it must have been good fun!
Medals Ceremony After the first three matches the divisions were made. With the Belgian team leading, all the athletes did their best and received a medal for their efforts. After a super weekend all the athletes went home with renewed pride and even bigger smiles on their faces!