Become an Athlete

When you choose to take your place among Special Olympics New York athletes, you’re joining a group of strong, ambitious competitors. Whether you take home medals or make lifelong friends—or both—you can look forward to building confidence and independence. Submit the form below to get started!

When you choose to take your place among Special Olympics New York athletes, you’re joining a group of strong, ambitious competitors. Whether you take home medals or make lifelong friends—or both—you can look forward to building confidence and independence. Submit the form below to get started!

EligibilityEligibility

Special Olympics New York athletes must be at least 8 years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following:

  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment
  • Significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or required specially designed instruction

Have a younger child? The Special Olympics Young Athletes™ program is designed especially for children ages 2 through 7 who have intellectual disabilities.

ProcessProcess

Athletes choose from the sports available in their region. Each athlete may choose one sport each season—summer, fall and winter.

As athletes become more skilled in their sports, Special Olympics New York encourages them to move into school and community programs to compete in regular sports activities. The athlete has the option to leave or continue involvement in Special Olympics New York at that point.

All athletes compete in divisions made up of people of similar age and ability level to ensure a level playing field. Competitions provide meaningful opportunities to test sports skills, measure progress and celebrate achievements.

Special Olympics Sports Rules govern all competitions and provide each athlete a reasonable chance to win.

To advance to higher levels of competition, an athlete must train for at least eight weeks in an organized training program in their chosen sport. In addition, he or she must have placed first, second or third at a lower level of competition in the same sport. Quotas determine how many athletes may advance to the next level of competition.

Did you know? Almost all Special Olympics New York sports have a skills component and an adaptive sport component. In addition, the Motor Activities Training Program (MATP), for athletes with profound disabilities, emphasizes training and participation rather than competition.