Romanian contestants attend swimming meet organized by Special Olympics Monaco

An 11-year old girl from Arad in Western Romania is among the Romanians selected to compete, alongside another 250 athletes from 25 nations, at a swimming contest for children with disabilities in Monaco.
Mara Oprea, who has Down syndrome, is a fourth grade student at a public school and was selected to participate at the first HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco Swimming Meet organized by Special Olympics Monaco.
Mara is one of the “little starts” of the Integra Association of People with Mental Disabilities, an NGO from Arad which follows the model of the Lebenshilfe organization, established in Germany 1958, which become the strongest association for people with mental disability, their families, experts and friends.
Integra supports around 60 families from Arad city and county and is very proud of Mara.
“The event is a serious challenge to the forces of any child and especially for Mara, who has not yet participated in an international competition. She continues to train since she has been selected, she is motivated to compete and win a certificate of participation and a medal abroad” representatives of the association said.
The girl has been practicing swimming for several years and in the last weeks was training at the Delfinul Olympic Pool in Arad with Martin Liptak, a swimming teacher.
Supervised by her parents, she also manages to split her time between school and swimming. Her participation is sponsored by a local mall in Arad.
Since 2011, she won medals at several competitions at swimming, running and riding and her teacher and classmates are really proud of her.
“We thank you that you were present in our school and you had the power to stay with us when we looked at you like an oddity. Grown ups are full of prejudices and they transmit this to the children too. We don’t know how you get that much power. It is a fact that she now reads copies and transcribes as nice and neat as the other children” they explained in the nomination they sent last December to the 2013 Gala of the Persons with Disabilities, organized by ActiveWatch and Motivation Romania, together with the Romanian National Television.
Teo Matican, a 16-year-old teenager from Craiova (Southern Romania) is also competing at the HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco Swimming Meet.
The two-day meet begins Friday (March 28) in Monaco with an opening ceremony at the Louis II Stadium in the presence of HSH Princess Charlene.
While 24 of the national teams are from across Europe, a special invitation was made to Team South Africa as the country is the birthplace of the Princess.
“We want to ensure that everyone around knows about the Special Olympics movement and the opportunities it provides for people of all ages and abilities with intellectual disabilities to get involved in our year-round program of sports training and competition” said Special Olympics Monaco Chairwoman Mireille Calmes.