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article imageCanada Special Olympics Team bids farewell ahead of Athens games Special

By Andrew Moran     Jun 17, 2011 in Sports
Toronto - Public officials gathered in downtown Toronto Friday to bid farewell and to wish luck to the 146 members of Canada's Special Olympics Team. The Canadian team will participate in the XIII Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
In 1968, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of former United States President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, founded the Special Olympics, the world’s largest athletic competition for those who suffer from mental disabilities.
More than 40 years later, the event has grown by approximately more than three million athletes in 178 nations. The Special Olympics also provides year-round training, athletic competition and specialty non-related programs.
Team Canada Roster marching in the streets.
Team Canada Roster marching in the streets.
Last year, Special Olympics Canada announced the Team Canada roster, which includes 106 athletes and 40 coaches to participate in the XIII Special Olympics World Summer Games at the Athens Kallimarmaro Pananthinaikon Stadium from June 25 to July 4.
Before next week’s departure, Canadian officials and Team Canada supporters gathered in Toronto at The Ballroom on John Street to bid farewell to the team that will serve as ambassadors for the country.
Prior to the celebration, Team Canada athletes, led by Darryl Sittler, Toronto police officers and two Royal Canadian Mounted Police, marched from Metro Hall to The Ballroom carrying Canadian flags and sporting red shirts that had “GO CANADA” written on them.
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
Canadian Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, Minister of State (Sports) Bal Gosal, Consul General of Greece Dimitris Azemopoulos and former Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Darryl Sittler applauded and praised team members for their hard work and the opportunity to represent Canada on the global stage.
“I am very proud of all of you. This Special Olympics movement represents what is great about our county. The fact that all of you worked so hard to prepare and travel far away to another country to represent us is something that all Canadians admire and support,” said Minister Flaherty.
“I thank you all for the hard training you have done. You all know that you’re going to be ambassadors for Canada when you’re in Greece and I’m sure you will represent us country very proudly and I’m also sure you will bring back gold, silver and bronze.”
Consul General of Greece Dimitris Azemopoulos
Consul General of Greece Dimitris Azemopoulos
The Minister of State stated that the federal government is honoured to have talented individuals represent Canada in Athens and that Canada is proud of the many accomplishments that have taken place.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish Team Canada great success at the Special Olympics World Summer Games,” said Gosal.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings legend, Darryl Sittler, congratulated the athletes for having the honour and privilege to serve not only Canada but their hometowns and communities.
Canada s Special Olympic Team and actress  singer Gabi Epstein.
Canada's Special Olympic Team and actress, singer Gabi Epstein.
“I’ve had the opportunity to represent Canada three times at international events and it’s the greatest memory and the greatest privilege an athlete can have,” said the 1989 Hall of Famer.
Following the speeches, Toronto actress and singer, Gabi Epstein, performed Canada’s national anthem “O Canada.”
Canada will participate in seven of the 21 sporting events, including 10-pin bowling, athletics, power lifting, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, softball and swimming, against 7,500 athletes in this year’s largest sporting event in the world.
Team Canada Roster marching in the streets.
Team Canada Roster marching in the streets.
More about canada special olympics team, special olympics world summer games, Jim flaherty, darryl sittler, dimitris azemopoulos
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