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Special Interest Matter - Special Olympics Australia National Games 2022 - Launceston

Tuesday 25 October 2022

[12.25 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, last week, we were privileged in Launceston to host the Special Olympics Australia National Games 2022. Last Monday, the athletes converged in Launceston to celebrate the last leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which saw the flame reach Civic Square. Scores of people came out to cheer and welcome all those who participated in the torch run, the City of Launceston, the volunteers, officials from the national games and of course, all the athletes who came from right across the country to Launceston to compete.

During this ceremony, an athlete from each state and territory had the honour of carrying the flame of hope alongside a law enforcement officer. We had a gorgeous day for it and had a fantastic time welcoming everyone. It was an absolute privilege to be there. Later that day was the opening ceremony itself, which was held at the Silverdome. This really got the athletes, their teams, coaches and the volunteers ready for the week of competition that was to begin. During the week, we saw events take place in the fields of athletics, basketball, bocce, ten-pin bowling, soccer, golf, gymnastics, swimming, table tennis, regular tennis and the competition was fierce.

I volunteered to assist with the bocce event and was absolutely thrilled to see so many volunteers who took the time to make the competition run so smoothly for athletes. It was lovely to see that in the bocce there was one athlete from Western Australia who played in a Tasmanian team because they needed an extra player. I must admit, she was absolutely fabulous, knew exactly where to throw that ball to get the best advantage and they did very well in the game I actually assisted with. The Tasmanian team, with assistance from Western Australia, won their game.

It was interesting to see the rules with bocce, how they differ very slightly to bowls. They are quite the same apart from the fact there is no bias on the ball. The athletes absolutely enjoyed it and were thrilled. When giving out the medals, the joy on their faces when a medal was put around their neck was heartwarming to see, they were so delighted. It did not matter where they came and all the participants, whether they won a medal or not, it was just an absolute pleasure to be there.

Governor-General David Hurley, stated:

The Special Olympics transforms the lives of competitors. The passion, commitment and camaraderie of athletes is inspirational and their joy infectious.

I could not agree more and it was wonderful to have the Governor-General and his wife attend.

I was struck by the level of co-operation and the sportsmanship I saw and I know that in the other events, the spirit of good gamesmanship would have been heartily demonstrated. The winners of medals in all events were varied and each state and territory had the chance to flex their respective muscles and skills. Suffice to say, Tasmania performed extremely well and everyone from the athletes and coaches to the volunteers and supporters poured their hearts into the competition. I encourage any curious members of this place to visit the national games website, where all the information on events and results can be found.

The Special Olympics brings together, through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities who can discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. These athletes inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential. We truly saw that in Launceston over the last week and having the opportunity to host these games made our city glow with an enthusiasm and vigor we do not always see.

The Special Olympics Australia National Games of 2022 was a roaring success and to all those who volunteered, for their time and passion and who came out to cheer the athletes, I say a huge thank you. To all those who competed, I say congratulations. I finish off with the athletes oath which was recited by Victorian gymnast, Patrick Forssman, at the end of the torch run:

Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.


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