Int'l swimming competition for persons with intellectual disabilities kicks off in Sarajevo

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SARAJEVO, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The international swimming competition "Oaza Open" for persons with intellectual difficulties kicked off here on Thursday, attracting about 150 competitors.

The competitors, aged 15-50, from Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) gathered at Otoka Olympic Pool, showing their abilities and capacities in swimming.

Armin Smajlovic, Director of Association for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in the Canton Sarajevo "Oaza", told Xinhua that the competition is not only for medal collection, but also for connection with other people to engage in social activities.

Smajlovic emphasized that the major aim of the competition is to improve the position of the persons with intellectual difficulties.

A mother of a 22-year-old competitor told Xinhua that her son Salko started swimming before he even started walking.

"My son has already achieved four gold medals from different international competitions," Dzevada Celik said, adding that her son is going to the Olympic pool very often, and swims during summer months at the seaside.

Celik said that her son has difficulties in his arms and that swimming has helped him a lot in both physical and psychological area.

"For me, the most important thing is making him happy. The medal is not important," Celik said.

Salko Celik, the son, told Xinhua that he is swimming 25 meters and that he expects to win.

The two-day competition is modeled as a Special Olympics and there are three divisions, hence, persons with light difficulties, medium and severe, and there are several categories where they compete in the different style of swimming, Smajlovic explained.

In the last nine years, Oaza Association organized different sports games for youth with difficulties, gathering over 5,000 young people. Enditem

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