Sports to watch at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games

What are your favorite sports? Chances are they’ll be played at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, July 1 through July 6, in Seattle. All the sporting events at the Games are free and open to the public, so plan to come out and cheer on these amazing athletes.


Also known as track and field, athletics were the primary events at the very first Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. This summer, athletics events will include sprints, long-distance runs, hurdles, relays, long jump, shot-put, and mini javelin. All events will be held at the University of Washington. See schedule


Today’s fast-moving game is a far cry from the days when basketball was first played using a peach basket. After every successful shot, someone had to climb up to retrieve the ball from the basket. Basketball events at the Special Olympics will be held at the University of Washington and Seattle University. See schedule


Bocce originated in Italy and is a game of skill and strategy. The goal is to roll the bocce ball closest to a small target ball called a palina. Events will be held at the University of Washington. See schedule


Ten-pin bowling is one of the fastest growing sports in the Special Olympics. Athletes who don’t have the physical ability to roll a ball with their hand or hands are able to use a bowling ball ramp. Bowling events will be held at the Kenmore Lanes in Kenmore. See schedule

Flag Football

Flag Football is one of the newest sports offered by Special Olympics. Instead of tackling the player running with the ball, the team on defense must remove a flag from a flag belt or the flag belt itself to end the play. Flag football games will be held at the University of Washington. See schedule


Golf is one of the oldest sports in the world, played by kings and noblemen in Scotland during the 1400s. Special Olympics games are played according to most of the International Federation rules.  Events will be held at Willows Run Golf Club in Redmond. See schedule


The ancient Greeks originated the sport of gymnastics to display their military skills, such as mounting and dismounting a horse, as well as their circus skills. Events at the Special Olympics will include vaulting, parallel bars, horizontal bars, uneven parallel bars, wide beam, balance beam, floor exercise, rings, and pommel horse. Competitions will be held at Seattle Pacific University. See schedule


This sport is a test of physical and mental strength. Extensive training, persistence, and a can-do attitude enable athletes to lift the most weight possible in the deadlift, back squat, and bench press competitions. Powerlifting events will be held at the University of Washington. See schedule


Soccer started in medieval England and involved dragging a heavy pig’s bladder to markers at the edge of town. Today it’s possibly the world’s most popular team sport. Special Olympics soccer competitions will be held at Seattle University. See schedule


The game was invented in 1887 and went by many names, including mush ball. As any softball player will attest, the ball is neither mushy or soft, and the game requires good bat and ball skills. Catch a game at Celebration Park in Federal Way. See schedule

Stand-up Paddleboarding

This spin-off of surfing is a relatively new sport to the Special Olympics. The event is a timed race through a water course, in which athletes can race sitting, kneeling, or standing on their boards. Events will be held at Angle Lake in Sea-Tac. See schedule


Swimming is first taught as a life skill for safety and is a popular recreational activity worldwide. Special Olympics events will include short sprints, longer swims, and relays that will be held at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. See schedule


This game was first played on a monastery courtyard in 11th century France. The monks hit the ball with the palms of their hands, using the walls and sloping roofs of the monastery buildings as part of their court. Come watch athletes play the modern version of the game in competitions at the University of Washington. See schedule


Inspired by the developing game of basketball, volleyball was invented in 1805 as a less strenuous sport for older people. Since then, the game has evolved into a sport of coordinated, spirited team play. Competitions will be held at the University of Washington. See schedule