Special Olympics Summer Games Begin

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COLUMBIA - 2,500 athletes and coaches will compete in track and field, aquatics, basketball, bowling, power lifting, and volleyball in Columbia this weekend as part of the 2013 Special Olympics Missouri Summer State Games.

There are 16,713 Special Olympics athletes statewide. To qualify for the State Games, athletes must win a gold medal at the area, district and regional level events.

"These athletes have been competing their whole year to get to this point--sometimes their whole lives just to get to this state games," said Brandon Schatsiek, Special Olympics Missouri Public Relations Coordinator. "If they get to this point, they are the best of the best." 

The first game, basketball, kicks off Thursday at the MU Recreation Center at 11:30 a.m. Events will continue through Sunday and will take place on the MU campus, as well as Columbia College, Hickman High School, and Town and Country Lanes.