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Special Olympics: Gibraltarian representatives treated to a spectucalr opening ceremony

The Opening Ceremony, in all great events, is probably the most important moment and the most long awaited of all manifestations.

The Marmi Stadium of Rome, full of people, provides a marvellous setting in which a warm and joyful atmosphere is created. This exact setting was recreated last night for the Opening Ceremony, which was enjoyed by more than 3,000 spectators and watched by many more on the Italian television channel ‘RAI SAT’.

It was the beginning of the Special Olympics European Youth Games!

The big-screen, the stage full of light and colour, the enthusiasm of our 1400 young athletes made this a truly magical evening, or maybe it would be better to say ‘Special’!

Two official conductors were introduced: Paola Saluzzi and the Olympic champion Yuri Chechi, two life-long friends of the Special Olympics who couldn’t have had a better role in this great event. However, the real superstars of the night were Alfredo and Serena. These two amazing athletes dominated the stage and everybody at Special Olympics thanks them for their fantastic presenting.

The festivities started first with the parade of 200 volunteers, and the emotion increased as each of the 55 delegations marched into the stadium. Each one of them was proudly accompanied by whom had adopted them through the funding campaign, ‘Adopt a Champion’ and by different personalities of the entertainment industry that could not resist the urge to walk with our athletes. Amongst the famous faces were Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Ornella Muti, Enrico Lo Verso, Tiziano Ferro, Filippo Magnini, Giuseppe Abbagnale, Margherita Buy, Stefano Battistelli, Sebastiano Somma, Serena Autieri, Alessia Filippi.

Each one of them, without a doubt, were extremely happy to play a part in this wonderful event.

The games were opened by two great friends of the Special Olympics Giovanna Melandri, Minister of Youth Policies and Sport Activities, and the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni.

The first to set up onto the stage were the Chairman of the Board of the Special Olympics Italy and a member of the International Board, Angelo Moratti , and Chairman of the Special Olympics, Timothy P. Shriver, who warmly welcomed everyone who is taking part and gave heart-warming speeches.

One of the most awaited and emotional moment arrived with the triumphal entrance of the flame. The torch was designed by Giorgio Armani, whom repeatedly expressed how proud he is to be a part of the Special Olympics. Italian athlete Roberto Pungelli, visibly moved, had the honour of carrying the flame and lighting the cauldron. The flame, as tradition states, will burn for the duration of the games and remind everybody of the symbol of honour and hope.

The ceremony was full of great spectacular moments. The stage was one of a kind and was an enchanting combination of many lights and colours that made up an incredible setting, taking the spectators’ breathe away. The imagination of Valerio Festi, and his fantastic air show of the flying dancers, directed by Pepi Morgia, and the moving sport statues were absolutely fantastic and will make this night an unforgettable one for everybody present.

It wouldn’t have been a real night without any kind of Italian music and the great successful singer/songwriter Biagio Antonacci gave us just this – he had everybody up on their feet, singing and dancing!

The closing of the ceremony would not have been complete without the oath recited by the Athlete Ilario Grosso: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

It is hoped that the “light” of the Special Olympic European Youth Games will stay lit in the hearts of all for a long, long time to come. If this happens, it will be the greatest victory of the Special Olympics European Youth Games.

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