The Athletes

The athletes who compete at Summer Games come from all walks of life and as far south as Tulare County and as far north as Humboldt County.  They work long and hard for the opportunity to showcase their skills and athletic ability over the course of the weekend.  The minimum age of the competitors is eight years of age and there is no age limit.

The athletic skills vary from athlete to athlete.  To ensure an equal playing field so that all have a fair chance to win, athletes are divisioned according to age, sex and playing ability.  Win or lose, Special Olympics firmly believes that everyone should be recognized for their efforts and as a result, Gold through Bronze medals are presented for first through third place and ribbons for 4th through 8th.  All athletes receive awards, even if they are disqualified or otherwise can not finish their event.

While four sports are showcased at Summer Games, Special Olympics Northern California offers sports training and competition opportunities in 12 different sports and serves 23,925 children and adults with intellectual disabilities who get to participate all year-round at no cost to them or their families. 

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Young Athlete Program

While athletes must be at least eight years of age to officially train and compete, children between the ages of 2 -7 with and without intellectual disabilities can participate in our Young Athlete Program (YAP).  The program introduces children into the world of sports with a variety of activities that support cognitive, social, and motor skill development.  Examples of activities are walking on a floor-level balance beam, jumping on targets, and throwing/kicking a ball.