Special Olympics torch passes by

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2013
special olympics
JOSEPH JOHNSON
Canterbury Special Olympics torch run through Cathedral Square.

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The Flame of Hope has passed through the centre of Christchurch as part of its journey south to mark the start of the Special Olympics.

The national competition starts in Dunedin on Wednesday. More than 100 Canterbury athletes and coaches will leave Christchurch this morning to compete in a range of sports.

Special Olympics Canterbury administrator Helen Mitchell said the region's team was the largest in New Zealand and athletes ranged from 12-year-old equestrian competitor Alexander Mennie to 58-year-old indoor bowls competitor Ian Thompson.

The Special Olympics torch - the Flame of Hope - has been making its way down the country for the last two weeks. It will land in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Yesterday, a group of Canterbury representatives passed the torch through the centre of Christchurch. Starting at the St Asaph St police station, the torch made its way up Oxford Terrace before passing through Re:Start Mall and Cathedral Square and ending its journey at the Christchurch City Council building on Worcester Boulevard.

Mitchell said it cost almost $70,000 to get the Canterbury team to Dunedin for the games.

"So teams across all sports have been training and fundraising really hard . . . some for more than a year," she said.

About $35,000 had been raised and the rest of the cost was covered from grants and Special Olympics Canterbury.

Special Olympics New Zealand hosts the national summer games every four years.

The four-day long competition will attract 1200 athletes, 450 coaches, 350 family members and more than 700 volunteers for the largest sports event for people with intellectual disabilities.

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- The Press

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