Relay for Special Olympics
Special Olympics athletes marched through Kerikeri on Saturday led by Senior Constable Rob Cameron, marking the beginning of a special torch relay.
The event signified the beginning of the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), which will see torches make their way from each end of New Zealand to Wellington - the venue for the Special Olympics National Summer Games from November 27 to December 1.
The LETR is a series of runs and fundraising events, which raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics movement. More than 90,000 police officers across 35 countries take part.
Athletes from Kaitaia, Kerikeri and Kaikohe will represent Special Olympics Bay of Islands and compete in swimming and equestrian events at New Zealand’s largest event for sports people with intellectual disabilities.
The torch relay aimed to raise awareness and collect donations for the group’s trip to Wellington.
Kerikeri swimmer Rachel Harvie, 20, will be attending her third Special Olympics and will compete in the 100 and 200 metre freestyle and breaststroke events.
Harvie has also been selected as a global messenger. She has been swimming since she was three and has lots of medals.
‘‘I will promote the Special Olympics by giving speeches at schools, clubs and other community events to spread the word about taking part in Special Olympics,’’ Harvie says.
George King from Kaitaia will join Harvie at the pool and says he loves swimming. ’’It’s fun and good exercise.’’
More than 7000 athletes train and compete throughout the country in 13 different summer and winter sports.
This year’s Special Olympics will see more than 1300 athletes from 44 clubs throughout New Zealand take part in athletics, basketball, bocce, equestrian, football, golf, indoor bowls, powerlifting, swimming and tenpin bowling.
‘‘The LETR is one of the highlights of major Special Olympics events, and this year we are excited that the torches will travel to all regions and clubs taking part in the National Summer Games,’’ says Special Olympics chief executive Kathy Gibson.
The Kerikeri leg was the first to be held north of Whangarei.
See more photos on page 17.
Kerikeri swimmer Rachel Harvie is looking forward to competing at her third Special Olympics.