Special Olympians from across the state are in Ames today for annual summer games. Iowa Special Olympics president Rich Fellingham says the summer games top off the entire experience of the athletes throughout the year. “To get to the state finals they go through regional competition to advance to the state finals. So it all starts with that training and that regional competition. And then those that are able to make it on to the state finals, it gives them another sense of accomplishment,” Fellingham says. “And when you go out and watch them, whether they finish first or last, they’re just as happy because they accomplished what they set out to do.” Fellingham says about 3000 athletes will participate in various sports through this weekend. He says they’ve continued to grow the number of athletes participating, but because they go through regional finals, the number that come to the summer games remains pretty steady. Ames will host the first-ever national Special Olympics Summer Games in 2006 and Fellingham says there’ll be some observers in town this weekend in preparation for those national games. He says they’ll be looking to see how they do things, and he says they be testing some automatic timing systems in track and field and aquatics. The timing systems will be used for the national games on July 4th of 2006. He says they’re sending in some experts to teach the people in Ames how to run the timing systems. Fellingham says the opening ceremonies for the Iowa Special Olympics summer games are tonight (Thursday) in Hilton Coliseum.
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