Jordan had the opportunity to film a small question and answer session with Apollo Ohno today. Below is his perspective of his experience.
I am an athlete who enjoys the thrill of competing. There are millions of athletes worldwide who enjoy it as well. I have won eighteen medals in eight years of competing in Special Olympics. Although in competitions there is only one winner, off the fields/court/ice, we all team up hoping to achieve the same victor of unity together. Yesterday, I got the chance to meet Mr. Apollo Anton Ohno, a US Olympic gold medalist and a fifteen-year speed skating veteran. Apollo has been very passionate about his sport for many years and has worked really hard to get to where he is today. Off the ice, Apollo is working for the same goal as many of us at the summit, and that is to create inclusion and unity in sports. Ohno has been a supporter of Special Olympics for many years and hopes to give more Special Olympians the chance to speed skate. He is also a follower of Tim Shriver’s “Dignity Revolution” and will rebel against exclusion along with millions of other people. From one gold medalist to another, it has been an honor to interview you, Apollo Ohno and I hope to see you at another World Games in the future.
Filming with Apollo
Temple of the Wingless Victory!Alli, Tanealya, Jordan and Kim at the Parthenon.
Alli and Jordan wanted to reflect on their experience at the Acropolis….
In the United States, anything from before1800 is considered old. The Greeks would laugh at that. They have beautifully constructed buildings from BC times, such as the Acropolis. It is amazing how a building could still stand and look magnificent after wars, growth and time, along with a lack of modern technology. Although the once vibrant colors of the Parthenon have faded, its beauty remains and should be an example to modern architecture. The Acropolis provided breathtaking views of the city, ranging from ancient ruins to the modern Olympic stadiums, which our athletes are competing in! Seeing such a beautiful structure will be a moment we will never forget
Team Illinois wanted to give you a perspective from each of it’s 3 members. We had an amazing time at Opening Ceremonies!
Kim- (Coach Perspective)
As a coach and chaperone for the Global Youth Summit, participating in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2011 World Games was one of the best nights of my life. Being able to walk with Jordan and Alli and the rest of the GYAS participants for the first time in GYAS was overwhelming and emotional. I could only think of how far Special Olympics has come since I started volunteering and how much these GYAS participants and athletes deserved this. Being able to see Special Olympics on a global level has been a lifelong dream and the Opening Ceremonies did not let me down. As a coach, I could not have been more proud to see all of the athletes walking in. As a chaperone for GYAS, I was so excited to be an observer of this amazing youth movement and felt the weight of what these youth are about to accomplish. I found myself feeling proud and emotional while watching these ceremonies with the Acropolis glowing in the background of this historic moment for me, the GYAS and Special Olympics.
Alli- (Peer perspective)
Words cannot describe how amazing walking into the opening ceremonies was. You know how in the movies, sports players walk onto the field and they look around at everyone and all of the flashing lights in awe? This was just like that. It was so surreal. Watching every country walk onto the stage made me realize why we are here and how much of an impact the Global Youth has the potential to make. We are going to get more supporters, programs and are going to help motivate these hard working athletes even more. The Global Messengers were such a huge inspiration to me. As they spoke about their greatest accomplishment, ranging from getting married to winning a medal and dedicating it to their best friend, I was moved by how much these people could accomplish. Their inspiration motivates me to work even more when I get back, so that every person with a disability has the opportunity to live up to their full potential. I know these athletes will be able to do whatever they want on and off the playing field. Participating in the opening ceremonies is something I will never forget.
Our perspective walking into the Opening Ceremonies
Jordan (Athlete perspective)
I have been competing in Special Olympics for many years in three different sports. I have been in many high adrenaline situations but last night, I had the biggest non-competitive adrenaline rush. Imagine leading your team out of the locker room and onto the field in the Super Bowl. That was what it was like leading off the introductions to the 2011 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremonies. That night included lots of excitement with a bunch of Greek singing and dancing, an amazing performance by Stevie Wonder, and being less that a football length away from NBA superstar Yao Ming, here representing the athletes of his native country China. However, out of all of those, the best part of the night was hearing from twelve Global Messengers from all parts of the world. They talked about what their greatest victory has been. I learned that winning a gold medal is not the only victory in Special Olympics. Some of the answers included getting married, going to school and getting a good education, having a successful job and many others. Although some of them did not speak English, I could still understand that they worked hard and truly deserved whatever it was. As for myself, my biggest victory (other than winning four championships in basketball) is being part of one of the biggest youth movements in the world.
The 12 Global Messengers that spoke at Opening Ceremonies!!