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2011 Special Olympics Summer Games

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Last month, some 7,500 athletes from 185 countries gathered in Athens, Greece, to compete in 22 sports in the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games. These athletes, individuals with intellectual disabilities, vied for medals in events ranging from judo and powerlifting to badminton and bocce. The Special Olympics organization coordinates the games, inviting competitors to participate and be celebrated for their accomplishments. From the organization's website: "It's often the first time that our athletes have truly taken center stage and been recognized as individuals." This year's event started with a lavish opening ceremony on June 25 and wrapped up on July 4. Collected here are some glimpses from the events of the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games. [39 photos]

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A young athlete from Sri Lanka celebrates after he won 100 meter event during the Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, Greece, on June 29, 2011. Yiannis Kourtoglou)
A young athlete from Sri Lanka celebrates after he won 100 meter event during the Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, Greece, on June 29, 2011. Yiannis Kourtoglou)
The Acropolis, at right, as floodlights illuminate the sky over Athens' Panathenaic Stadium, during a rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics late June 17, 2011. (Reuters/Yannis Behrakis) #
The Athens 2011 Special Olympics Opening Ceremony at Panathinaiko stadium on June 25, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Team Australia enters the stadium for the team's presentation during the Athens 2011 Special Olympics Opening Ceremony at Panathinaiko stadium on June 25, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Performers celebrate during the Athens 2011 Special Olympics Opening Ceremony at Panathinaiko stadium on June 25, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
An athlete carries the Olympic flame during the Athens 2011 Special Olympics Opening Ceremony at Panathinaiko stadium on June 25, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
The torch above Panathinaiko stadium lights up among fireworks, opening the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games on June 25, 2011, in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Athletes leave the stadium after the end of the Athens 2011 Special Olympics Opening Ceremony at Panathinaiko stadium on June 25, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Kim Jensen of Australia competes during the artistic gymnastics men's final round during the Special Olympics Games on June 28, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Kabalo Mkhabela of South Africa stands barefoot at the start of the 800 meter race during the Special Olympics World Summer Games, on July 1, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Woo Seon Park a young athlete from Korea celebrates her gold medal in the 50M Breaststroke event, in Athens, Greece on June 27, 2011. Yiannis Kourtoglou) #
Rene Krueger of Germany shoots on goal as Joshua Agare of Kenya defends during the handball match between Kenya and Germany at the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games on June 28, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Lena Baldoni of Canada, after completing the 4x400 meters relay run during the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games on July 2, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Spectators follow the swimming medal ceremonies during the Special Olympics Summer Games on June 30, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Ciara Trait of Ireland, after winning the 25 meter backstroke event in the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games on July 1, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
The division M1 basketball final game takes place between Australia and Venezuela at the Special Olympics Summer Games on July 3, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Russell Gerber of Canada celebrates during the powerlifting competition of the 2011 Special Olympics on June 29, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Hormelys Pichardo of Cuba shows his gold medal after winning the half marathon division M6 of the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games on July 3, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
A young athlete from Costa Rica celebrates after he took first place in a swimming event at the Special Olympics in Athens, Greece, on June 25, 2011. Yiannis Kourtoglou) #
Sedireng Sophy Sokane of South Africa wears pins in her hair while competing in the 100 meter race during the Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on July 1, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Anna Antonopoulou of Greece, during her badminton match against Nedyalka Ivanova of Bulgaria at the Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on June 27, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Maria Pachi supports her son Nikolaos Kostopoulos of Greece as he competes in the 25 meter breaststroke during the Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on June 28, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Team China celebrates after completing the 4x400 meters relay run of the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games on July 2, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
A competitor smiles after completing a 100 meter race in the Special Olympics Summer Games on June 26, 2011. Yiannis Kourtoglou) #
Chi Ip Fung of Macau makes a leap during the high jump competition of the Special Olympics Summer Games on July 1, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Swimmer Dallana Castillo of Honduras cries during the medal ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on June 30, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
The swimming team of Germany celebrates with their gold medals during a medal ceremony at the Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on June 30, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Rita Chavez Quedada Quesada kisses her daughter Lagos Ethel of Costa Rica after she won the 5 kilometer time trial competition of the Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on June 29, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Martin Mahood of Ireland (left) and Luis Ortiz of Puerto Rico compete in the 800 meter run of the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens, on July 1, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
A member of Team China celebrates after completing the 4x400 meters relay run of the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on July 2, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Team New Zealand performs the Haka before their basketball game with Singapore, at the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens, on July 1, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
A young athlete from Oman at the start of a 100 meter race in the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens, on July 1, 2011. Yiannis Kourtoglou) #
Filipe Carmo (left) celebrates with his teammate Rui Santos of Portugal during the 7x7 football match between Australia and Portugal at the Special Olympics Summer Games on June 30, 2011 in Athens, Greece. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Ederson Idrogo of Peru competes in the 100 meter walk during the Athens 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games on July 2, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
After a swimming event, a young athlete makes a heart shape with her hands at the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on July 1, 2011. Yiannis Kourtoglou) #
Spectators celebrate during the Closing Ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, on July 4, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Fireworks erupt above the Panathinaiko stadium during the Closing Ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens, on July 4, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
On July 4, 2011, Greek singer Alkistis Protopsalti performs in the Closing Ceremony of the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #
Swimmer Antonio Ramirez of Spain holds his bronze medal aloft during a medal ceremony at the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games, on June 30, 2011. (Vladimir Rys/Getty Images) #

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