Special Olympics, World Games and so much more
The score is tied at 21-21. The spectators are going crazy as the game is pushed into overtime. Its basket for basket. With only ten seconds remaining, Australia is up by one point. But then the Australian basketball team lift and shoot a three pointer as the buzzer sounds to win the gold medal against Spain 26-22.
Angela Braido was part of this basketball team that won gold at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi in March. Over 7000 athletes with an intellectual disability from 170 nations competed across a variety of sports. Angela was one of two ACT athletes competing for Australia. I sat down with Angela to discuss the World Games, and how Special Olympics helps people with an intellectual disability.
Q: So you’ve just returned from the World Games, how did it feel getting your gold medal?
A: So we got it the day after because they still had games during the day and they wanted to do all the basketballers together. So we all did it the following day. Getting up there and receiving the gold medal, you just didn’t know where to look. You are watching everyone else get there medals and it’s just a really cool feeling. And then when you receive yours, it’s just like ‘this doesn’t feel real’. It still doesn’t feel real. Coming back as a gold medalist it’s just like ‘oh wow you actually did it’.
Q: Why did you decide to become involved in Special Olympics?
A: So I decided to become involved in Special Olympics when I decided to continue basketball further. It was the ACT women’s Ivor Burge coach that said ‘Hey why don’t you come join Special Olympics?’ I wasn’t too sure about it and then after doing a trial session I thought that it was pretty cool. So I started attending a lot more and I seem to have fell in love with Special O and the values of Special O after discovering what the values were a bit more later on. And then pretty soon the selections for Nationals were coming up. So I went to my first Nationals last year in Adelaide and then got selected to play at the World Games. So I’ve gone from one competition to selections to Nationals to Worlds so it was really really cool.
Q: So you’re not only an athlete but have also joined the committee and become an athlete leader within the organisation, why did you decide to become involved in that aspect as well?
So I decided to become a bit more involved after hearing that athletes do have a voice within Special Olympics. I didn’t know about that until they said ‘Hey why don’t you look at joining the committee because you can advocate, you can do that sort of stuff with assistance, you can definitely do some advocating within Special O’. And so we came along to one of our first committee meetings last year and we looked at fundraising and that sort of stuff and thought why not become part of the committee?
After being asked about possibly doing the athlete representative, I was like ‘Oh probably not’, because I haven’t done the programs and wasn’t experienced enough to be able to do the actual program. But I’m about to start the ALP’s program (athlete leadership program) which will be really good.
Q: How important do you think it is to have Special Olympics around for people with an intellectual disability?
Without Special Olympics, we wouldn’t be able to experience having the opportunity to go overseas and compete. Even just competing in our own state, we wouldn’t really have that opportunity either. But having that opportunity to even get selected to go to a Nationals and having that option and feel like we actually can do something, regardless of your ability. Because sometimes you may not be able to do things by yourself but you can do a sport by yourself. And that kind of comes in where it brings an independence as well as being able to show off their own skills that they’ve got.
Never playing a sport in my life and being able to come into Special Olympics and experience what everyone else does, getting that ability, going overseas or just even going to Nationals is a really cool feeling. It makes you feel like you are actually good at something. It teaches you how to be within a team, it just teaches you so much. There are honestly no words to describe how good Special Olympics actually really is. And the importance of everybody knowing about Special Olympics and getting involved, it really does change lives with people with intellectual disabilities.
To get involved in Special Olympics, either as an athlete or volunteer, follow this link here.