Portugal won 27 medals and “many victories” at the Special Olympics World Games.

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Portugal won 27 medals at the Special Olympics World Games, which ended on Sunday in Berlin, a competition in which it was represented by 37 athletes and where promoting “inclusion” is more important than places on the podium.

“Results and medals are always good, but the Special Olympics movement is much more than a competitive framework”, said Maria João Figueira, director of Special Olympics Portugal, stressing the importance for “each athlete to give their best in terms of performance and to manage to surpass themselves”.

Maria João Figueira reaffirmed the importance for athletes of being able to “live unique experiences in terms of self-esteem, the ability to go further, to overcome their own handicaps”.

At the Berlin World Games, held from June 17 to 25, Portugal won eight gold, twelve silver and seven bronze medals, being represented in eight sports: swimming, athletics, basketball, golf, rhythmic gymnastics, futsal, table tennis and equestrian.

“All our athletes excelled and almost all managed to win a medal, which is very positive,” she said, adding that there were plans to introduce new sports at the next edition of the World Games in 2027, which was not the case this year.

The Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, João Paulo Correia, congratulated the Portuguese mission, via a post on the social network Twitter, in which he highlighted “the contribution to the cause of inclusion through sport”.

The mission of the Special Olympics movement is to provide the conditions for physical activity and sport, in a continuous and varied manner and with an impact on social integration, for children, young people and adults with intellectual disabilities, building a world where every person, regardless of ability, is accepted and valued.

Special Olympics has existed since 1968 (since 2001 in Portugal) and Portugal has participated in the World Games in Dublin in 2003, Shanghai in 2007, Athens in 2011, Los Angeles in 2015 and Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Races are organized on the basis of integration and competition between equals, which means that “divisions” are set up, with athletes entered in series with similar times.

In 2019, Portugal took part in the World Cup with 31 athletes in nine sports and, due to the pandemic caused by covid-19, the 2021 European Championships have been cancelled.

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