In late February, Special Olympics Australia welcomed Team Australia to their official training camp as they prepare to represent Australia at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023.
The World Games will be the largest and most inclusive sporting event on the planet this year. Over 7,000 athletes with an intellectual disability from 180 delegations will compete in Berlin from 17-25 June.
Team Australia has 64 athletes who will compete across nine sports – athletics, basketball bocce, bowling, golf, equestrian, gymnastics, swimming, tennis – and they will be supported by 28 volunteer officials.
Over 96% of athletes who will wear the green and gold will represent Australia for the first time, like Michael Wheatley from NSW who was delighted to be selected for tenpin bowling.
Michael says, “Sport is good for me. I have learned to stay healthy by doing exercise and I’ve made good friends as well. I am so proud to be in the Australian team and to be going to the World Games. I am living my dream!”
Michael Wheatley proudly shows his gold medal that he captured at the 2022 Special Olympics National Games in Launceston, Tasmania
Team Australia has four tenpin bowlers: Michael Wheatley (NSW), Angela Fowler (NSW), Brooke Greenhalgh (VIC), Robert Goodrem (VIC). Coach: Justin Lopes (VIC). Assistant Coach: Rebecca Carter (QLD). This will be the first World Games for the entire team!
Special Olympics Australia CEO Pierre Comis said, “The athletes who have been selected for Team Australia have trained hard to earn a place on the team and they are rightly proud and excited! Please help us cheer on these incredible athletes and follow their journey to the World Games. Your heart will be warmed by the amazing things they can do on the court, on the track, in the pool, on the field, on the lanes and in the gym. Team Australia will show you what athletes with an intellectual disability are capable of when they are supported and included. You’ll be amazed and inspired.”
To highlight the importance of providing pathways for all participants in the sport including people with an intellectual disability, Tenpin Bowling Australia has embarked on two additional key initiatives. One is the addition of the National Training Squad for inclusion to support future Australian athletes; with an intellectual disability, are wheelchair users, vision impaired or totally blind athletes. Secondly, the organisation has dedicated a role to ensure inclusion and diversity is prioritised across everything we do as a national sporting organisation.
Tenpin Bowling Australia’s Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Emily Rennes, acknowledges that international representation is a pinnacle for many athletes “learning to bowl can be the pathway that leads to representing your country”. She encourages anyone wishing to emulate these representatives to get started at their local tenpin bowling centre or through Special Olympics Australia. Whether that’s a program like Bowl Patrol or Bowl Abilities, becoming a Lane Ranger/coach, joining a league or training towards a tournament like the National Disability Championships.
Tenpin Bowling Australia wishes all the selected members of the team the best of luck and high scoring for the event.
To view the full team and follow their journey, please visit www.specialolympics.com.au
From left; Justin, Michael, Brooke, Robert, Angela and Rebecca are Team Australia – Tenpin Bowling for the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023