Special Olympics Athens_58.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Its policy vis-à-vis the flotilla bound for Gaza and its economic crisis are not
the only reasons that Greece is making global headlines these days.
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was also the venue of the Special Olympics for mentally challenged athletes
whose sporting prowess puts them in the ranks of achievers.
ceremony was held on Monday night.
President Shimon Peres telephoned
Athens on Monday morning to congratulate members of the Israeli delegation and
to wish them good luck in the future.
The 85 member team will come home
with 51 medals, of which 17 are gold, 18 are silver and 16 are
“The State of Israel is proud of you” said Peres as he
congratulated the athletes for bringing so much gold to Israel, emphasizing that
their achievements were proof that success is attainable, regardless of
The excellence they had demonstrated in the sports arena
gave fresh hope to others with mental disabilities who are fighting for
acceptance, inclusion and respect, and showed that there are sometimes
compensatory factors, said Peres, adding what they had achieved was not only a
personal triumph for each, but proof that with determination and effort many
difficulties can be overcome.
The athletes, who competed in 11 sports,
were thrilled to receive a phone call from the president, and the team of
caregivers sent by the Social Welfare Ministry to accompany the athletes, was no
The achievements of Israel’s mainstream Olympic teams have
never been anywhere as near impressive as those of Israel’s Special Olympics and