We are pleased to introduce a special participant of the Games: Valery Vera, 12 years old, is the youngest athlete of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, comes from Paraguay and competes in gymnastics-rhythmic. We met her and talked to her about her passion.
Gymnastics-rhythmic is a real feast for the eyes at the Games. Flags, rings, balls and great costumes characterize the image just as much as convincing athletic performances. In addition, this sport has the special feature that the youngest participant is competing here: Valery Vera from SO Paraguay.
Dance, dance, dance – when music plays, Valery only wants to dance. A little shy, but with a big smile on her face, she talks about her passion. Her interest in moving to music is also the reason why the 12-year-old eventually discovered her love for gymnastics-rhythmic.
Before she started her current passion, swimming, tennis and speed skating were her favorite sports. And now it is gymnastics-rhythmic, which she has been very involved in for over a year. This was not so easy, because the sports hall where she can practice is very far from her home.
She is thrilled to be part of the action in Berlin: "It's so beautiful here." She particularly likes the athletes' lounge at the Messe Berlin. There she has a lot of fun and can play games, she says, and she particularly likes that. When asked what she likes best about rhythmic gymnastics, she answers quite clearly: she likes dancing with the clubs best.
Her 20-year-old coach Thiara Chavez looks after Valery with great love and commitment. This is because the girl's parents and her two younger siblings have stayed at home in a suburb of the capital Asuncion.
"She has already spoken to her family via Zoom and reported how beautiful she finds it here in Berlin," says the trainer.
It's not just the beauty of Berlin that the two agree on. Even when the competitions are over, the athlete and her coach are especially looking forward to the Athetes' Party at Brandenburger Tor, because there, too, the motto is: dance, dance, dance.
The oldest participant of the Games is called Raewyn Judson and comes from New Zealand. She is 81 years old and the head coach of the bowling team.
Before her trip to Germany and her first participation in the Special Olympics World Games ever, she was nevertheless excited. "I was nervous if everything would work out and if everything would be well organized," she explains. Now, she says, she is satisfied and loves being here.
"It's so great to watch the athletes of all the teams and see their joy. It's very emotional." After the Games, they will spend a few more days in Berlin before taking on the long journey home.
And we say already now: Thank you so much for being here!