Special Olympics Athletes

Athletes are the heart of Special Olympics
Special Olympics BC swimmers on the podium

Our athletes are children and adults with intellectual disabilities from all around the province. They are finding success, joy and friendship as part of our global community. They're also having lots of fun!

Who are our athletes?

Special Olympics athletes have intellectual disabilities. Intellectual disabilities happen in all cultures, races, and countries. The goal of Special Olympics globally is to reach out to the nearly 200 million people in the world with intellectual disabilities. There are more than 4,900 Special Olympics athletes in 55 communities throughout B.C.  At any age and all over our province, our athletes are learning new skills, making new friends and gaining in fitness and confidence.

Our athletes range in age from two years and up with many different backgrounds, interests, and levels of ability. They have the opportunity to get active in our youth programs or practice and compete year-round in the 18 sports we offer.

Athletes participate recreationally or strive to compete at regional, provincial, national, or international events. SOBC athletes also have opportunities for leadership roles in their communities by serving as athlete speakers and as fundraising and program volunteers.

Every day, everywhere

Special Olympics BC programs and competitions happen year-round in 55 communities throughout our province.

We offer 18 summer and winter sports, youth programs, and health and fitness programs. So whatever your age or skill level, Special Olympics has something for you. Many athletes start in one sport, then go on to try others.

Through sports, our athletes are seeing themselves for their abilities, not disabilities. Their world is opened with acceptance and understanding.They become confident and empowered by their accomplishments. They are also making new friends, as part of the most inclusive community on the planet - a community that is growing every day.

“I wanted to play in school but didn’t have the chance. I believed I could be a good player on the right team. Now I am a good player on a great team. Basketball gives me and my team a chance to show people what we are capable of.” –Carson Buzdegan, SOBC – Langley athlete

From athletes to leaders

Through sport training and competitions, Special Olympics helps people with intellectual disabilities find joy, acceptance, and success. As their lives open up, athletes gain the confidence that comes with achievement. They feel empowered. They are ready to take on new leadership challenges to make use of their new abilities. They can also move toward a more public role as a speaker or spokesperson. They can speak to audiences and journalists about the positive changes that Special Olympics helped bring about in their lives. At Special Olympics, our athletes are empowered to share their many gifts and talents with society. They are also become empowered to be leaders in society - and teach us all about acceptance and understanding.