2013 sees the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games being held in PyeongChang, South Korea. With the games officially opening on 29th January, Team GB will be heading off to South Korea this afternoon to start their training and preparations for a chance of a life time! Before the athletes of Team GB head to PyeongChang, the Ambassador of South Korea, His Excellency Mr Suk Hwan Park, invited the team, along with their friends and family, to join him at his residency and give them a proper sending off!
The Special Olympics will run from 29th January to 5th February and are held every two years, alternating between Summer and Winter Games. This will be the 10th Winter Games and will be hosted by PyeongChang, a county in the Gangwon Province, East of Seoul towards Donghae (East Sea, not SuJu member). This will be the largest Winter multi-sport event ever to be held in South Korea, and PyeongChang will also be hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics. Great Britain will be sending 7 skiers to compete in PyeongChang: Elizabeth Allen, Jane Andrews, Clare Lines, Luke Purdie (the maknae of the team!), Mikael Undrom, Robert Holden and Wayne McCarthy. For many of the athletes, this will be their first trip to South Korea and they are all very, very excited! Elizabeth and Clare are super keen and eager to get on the plane and Mikael tells us that he can’t wait to get on the slopes and of course, try all the delicious foods South Korea has to offer!
At the Ambassador’s residence, we saw the athletes give their oath for the Olympics as they vow to work hard. But there was also a very special ceremony where all the athletes were given gifts and a very special present. To mark the 125 years of friendship between the United Kingdom and South Korea, His Excellency gave each athlete a very special pin as modelled here on his collar by the charming and bubbly Mikael.
In return, the Team GB coach also gave His Excellency a special pin to thank him for his hospitality and support. This was a fabulous do which got many friends, family and coaches emotional and it was a great way to prepare the athletes for the few weeks ahead! The Head of the Volunteering Committee also wrote and recited a very special poem for the team which got everyone very into the Olympic spirit! It was very nice to be able to have a chat with all the coaches, supporters, and of course, the athletes! Jane was especially overwhelmed after being an alpine skier for over 20 years, she never thought she would be competing and now she is about to embark on her first international competition!
Of course how can you have a party without any cake, 2 very special cakes were made; lucky (and very very delicious) cakes!
With Gangnam Style being one of the biggest hits of 2012, of course we couldn’t go the night without hearing some epic Gangnam Styling plans. Plans to get the whole of Team GB doing the Gangnam Style in front of the mountains are in place and we can’t wait to see the photos! Mikael has already got the moves down to a tee!
Before leaving, all the athletes took a moment to sign the guest book of the Ambassador’s residents to mark this very special occasion. It’s definitely been a very fun and exciting evening and we want to further thank His Excellency for the invitation. We hope that you will all join us in supporting Team GB and the great Special Olympics.
Special Olympics World Games bring public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities, helping to change attitudes and break down barriers that excluded them from the mainstream of the community.
We wish Team GB all the best in the 2013 Special Olympics! We hope you enjoy South Korea and get the chance to explore and immerse in a bit of traditional culture :)
The Olympic area is an alcohol free zone but we hope the team and their coaches will have time to celebrate after the busy 2 weeks and try some famous Korean Soju and don’t worry, we’ve warned the coach of the dangers of South Korean Soju!