CANTON Athletes have been training for weeks in preparation for the north countrys annual Special Olympics Summer Games.
The competition for disabled athletes in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties is set for May 3 at SUNY Cantons Roos House athletic center.
For most of the athletes, this is as far as they will be going in the games, so we try to make it as great an experience as possible, area coordinator Elizabeth M. Demo said.
Seventeen track and field and basketball events will start at 9:45 a.m. and should wrap up about 2 p.m., Ms. Demo said.
Its going to be a very busy day, she said.
Lesley E. Thompson, Canton, volunteers her time every year to organize eight weeks of basketball training for the athletes. This year, she said, the SUNY Canton mens and womens basketball teams are helping out with weekly practices.
Theyve been a great help and always bring lots of energy to the practices, Ms. Thompson said.
Ms. Thompson said a record 25 athletes will compete in basketball this year.
She said organizers also have added a javelin throw. The javelin is about 3 feet long and has a rubber tip to ensure safety, Ms. Demo said.
We havent added a new competition in a while, so many of the athletes are excited to try it, she said.
Ms. Demo said about 180 of the areas 250 athletes will participate in the summer games.
Registration for athletes closed last week, as most are approaching the end of their training programs.
Ms. Demo said about 10 athletes will be selected to go on to the state games June 5 to 8 in Buffalo.
Also new this year, Ms. Demo said, is a table that will be set up with information and tips on healthy living, eating and exercising for athletes to check out between competitions.
Its the first step in trying to bring aspects of the international competition to a local level, Ms. Demo said.
She said the organization has seen a great amount of community and financial support over the past few years; SUNY Potsdam has donated its facilities in the past, and for the second year in a row SUNY Canton has donated its field house and gym for the day.
The public can attend for free, but seating will be limited.