On the opening day of the Iowa Special Olympics, athletes partook in several athletic competitions and the opening ceremony for the games. The games are hosted on Iowa State’s campus
The opening ceremony was held Thursday at Hilton Coliseum and with athletes participating in the Walk of Champions, where athletes march around the stadium.
The athletes were greeted by Iowa veterans and cheerleaders including those from Iowa high schools.
For the competition for the day, athletes competed in cycling, singles tennis, bocce, soccer and the race walk component of the athletics competitions. Athletics competitions are track and field type events.
Aside from athletic competition, the games had two separate clinics to develop the skills of Special Olympians — cheerleading and sports.
On Friday, athletes will be competing in swimming, bocce, tennis skills and singles competition and athletics.
There will also be a celebration dance performance at 7 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum, which will be performed by the athletes.
In addition to sports clinics, Special Olympics Iowa will also be promoting and aiding in the promotion of health in their athletes with their Fit Fitness, FunFitness, Fit Feet, Opening Eyes and Special Smiles programs.
The Opening Eyes program provides vision check-ups for the competitors and even provides free glasses and competitive goggles for athletes who need corrective lenses.
Many special athletes suffer from ankle and foot ailments from a variety of reasons including not have the proper footwear. Many athletes have ill-fitting shoes and cleats and the Fit Feet checks to see if athletes have any injuries from shoes or the competition.
Special Smiles provides dental check-ups for athletes and FitFitness and FUNFitness aim to promote exercise and the importance of stretching and flexibility.
Optometrists, dentists, dental hygienists, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals work for Special Olympics Iowa to do the programs.
Competition begins at 8:15 a.m. with the swimming competitions at Beyer Hall on Iowa State’s campus.