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Athletes and supporters of Special Olympics Thames Valley give a cheer before heading off on the torch run. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Torch run ignites excitement for games

Athletes and supporters of Thames Valley’s Special Olympics squad strutted their stuff down the main street of Paeroa as part of a torch run anticipating the national summer games.
Formed in 1981 in the United States, the Law Enforcement Torch Run showcases and raises awareness of the Special Olympics – which is happening in Hamilton this December.
The torch has already been to Southland, Dunedin, Christchurch, and Whangārei, and on October 19, it was Thames Valley’s turn to carry it from the Paeroa Information Hub, to the Paeroa Domain.
Local constable Paige Keith was the law enforcement representative selected to carry the “flame of hope”.
Thames Valley Special Olympics chairperson and Goldfields School teacher Anna Walters said the parade highlighted the sporting achievements of the 14 athletes heading to the national summer games.
Following a four-year cycle similar to the Olympics and Paralympics, the summer games is Special Olympics New Zealand’s largest national event.
More than 1400 athletes and coaches take part from across the country in sports such as swimming, bocce, athletics, and indoor bowls.
Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams walked alongside the athletes and said they put their “heart and soul” into their chosen sports.
“I know some of these guys; I’ve swam next to them a couple of times – they beat me.”
He encouraged them to “bring back some bling” from the summer games, which kick off on December 8 after being postponed in 2021 due to Covid-19.
DETAILS: To keep up to date with the athletes, find Special Olympics Thames Valley on Facebook.