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Cuba at Shanghai Special Olympics

The 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games, the most important sporting event for people with mental disabilities, concludes its second day of competitions Thursday in the Chinese city of Shanghai.

The first Cuban athletes debuted in preliminary runs on Wednesday in womens volleyball and rhythmic gymnastics to group the athletes for the final rounds on Friday according to their ability.

The Cubans in Shanghai include 23 athletes who won earned their tickets to China at the National Special Games held last year. The delegation is comprised of the women's volleyball team and athletes in the men's and women's athletics, swimming, rhythmical gymnastics and table tennis.

The Shanghai event was inaugurated on Tuesday with the presence of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Eunice Kennedy of the United States, a founder of the Special Olympics back in 1968, and other guests.

More than 100,000 spectators filled the stands for the two-hour inaugural ceremony which included prestigious figures of Chinese sports and culture including actor Jackie Chang, basketball star Yao Ming and the Athens 2004 Olympics and Osaka 2007 World Champion at the 110-meter hurdles, Liu Xiang.

The 12th World Special Olympics Summer Games have a total of 24 sports and conclude on October 11. More than 7,000 athletes from 164 countries will take part, 665 from 17 Latin American nations.

This is the seventh time that Cuba is taking part in the Games since 1986. The island has also taken part in four Special Olympics Winter Games, and the first Latin American Games held in El Salvador in 2006.

During the different competitions the Cuban athletes have won 132 gold medals, 77 silver and 71 bronze.

Source: Coto Wong, Granma

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