Special Olympics

Special Olympics provide year-round sports training and athletic competition to more than 2.5 million people with intellectual disabilities in more than 180 different countries.

Like the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games, the Special Olympics World Games include summer and winter versions, and are held every four years. The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago, Illinois, USA, in 1968. The first International Special Olympics Winter Games were held in February 1977 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, USA.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics and Disability Snowsport UK are pleased to announce that they have been working in partnership to promote opportunities in snowsports for people with a learning disability.

Winter 2009 saw 3000 athletes from 100 countries will travel to Boise, Idaho to compete at Special Olympics World Winter Games, 6-13 February 2009.

Great Britain was proud to be sending a delegation of ten learning disabled athletes.  

The SOGB World Winter Games team is made up of representatives from 4 of the 19 different SOGB regions: West Midlands, South Eastern, Wales & Lothian.

During their time in Idaho, the athletes competed in three different disciplines: Super Giant Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Slalom, in Advanced, Intermediate and Novice levels.

The contests were held at various locations throughout the Boise area including Bogus Basin Ski Resort, Sun Valley Resort, Dollar Mountain, Tamarack Resort, Ponderosa State Park, and several venues within the city itself


According to British Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott: "As an Olympian, I respect the amount of training, dedication and just plain hard work the Special Olympics athletes put into their athletic performance. It’s exciting to think that they will get to know the thrill of competition on a World stage. I am honored to be a fan!"

Special Olympics WebsiteSpecial Olympics Website
Special Olympics and Paralympics: What’s the difference?
The Special Olympics and the Paralympics are quite different. But they are both sporting competitions for people with disabilities. People from across the world compete in them both.

The Special Olympics are for people with learning disabilities. An example of a learning disability is Down’s syndrome
Different groups
Paralympic athletes come into six groups: amputees, people with cerebral palsy, people with a visual impairment, people who have had a spinal cord injury, people with a learning disability and Les Autres, which means other people who don’t quite fit any of these groups.

You have to meet certain criteria to be in the Paralympics and it is for elite athletes only, so you have to qualify for the events. Anyone with a learning disability can get involved in the Special Olympics.