Michael Love represents River Parishes Special Olympics in Germany
Published 8:37 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023
BERLIN, Germany — Michael Love of Norco is among a 193-person delegation representing the USA in the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin.
Held June 17-25, the Special Olympics World Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event taking place in 2023, as well as the biggest multi-sport event Berlin has hosted in decades. The Games transcend geography, nationality, gender, age and culture while promoting inclusion, equality and acceptance around the world.
More than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from more than 190 countries will compete in 26 Olympic-style summer sports. The USA team is comprised of 95 athletes, 34 unified partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities who compete alongside teammates with disabilities), 38 coaches and 26 support staff representing 46 states.
Among the athletes is Love, who has been involved with the Special Olympics locally for 11 years in athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling and swimming. He is one of only two delegates from Louisiana and will represent the Special Olympics USA in swimming.
For the past three years, Love has advocated for health programming within the Special Olympics community as a trained health messenger, making videos of different workouts and healthy recipes. Special Olympics has given Love the courage and confidence to be himself and to encourage others to do the same.
This year marks his second time venturing to the Special Olympics USA Games in swimming.
Now attending Delgado Community College, Love swam for four years on his high school swim team and on private competition teams. In high school, he reached the rank of major in Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. His brother Daniel served 11 years in the Army National Guard as a combat medic and has always motivated Michael to participate in sports. Special Olympics has expanded his family significantly, surrounding him with a support network to help him achieve his goals and become more independent.
Also representing Louisiana on the Special Olympics USA team is Landa Gann of Lafayette, who will serve as an assistant coach in bowling. Gann has coached Special Olympics athletes for the past 18 years and has also competed in the World Games as a unified partner in bowling. She was named Special Olympics Louisiana Volunteer of the Year in 2015.
Athletes and unified partners were nominated by their home Special Olympics program to be a member of the USA team. The nominated members attended Team Trials in November 2022, and the final delegation was announced in January 2023.
The delegation’s journey began with a send-off celebration in New York City June 10-11. Over the next few days, delegation members will enjoy cultural celebrations and sports training sessions in host cities Bremen and Bremerhaven before heading to Berlin for the opening ceremony, which will air from 2 to 5 p.m. Central time June 17 on ABC.
- Brooke R. Cantrelle contributed to this report.