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Special Olympics: Going For Gold
One young competitor from Leicester is going for a gold in basketball at the Special Olympics 2009. BBC Leicester's Hasan Patel spoke to the determined teenager to find out more about him. Listen to his story...
Two thousand seven hundred Special Olympics athletes, 1,000 coaches, 1,500 volunteers and their families have been arriving in Leicester for the Games, which takes place between 25 – 31 July 2009.
Athletes already living in the city and county have been getting in their final training sessions, which could mean the difference between silver and gold.
Listen: Going For Gold
Omar Pardesi from Leicester is one of those hopeful participants who not only wants to win gold in basketball, but as a young Asian man is determined to show to members of his community that his learning disability isn't a taboo issue.
BBC Leicester's Hasan Patel spoke to the determined teenager to find out more...
Omar is a huge fan of sport, but by far his favourite activity is basketball, which he hopes to play as much as possible during the competition.
"It's good for training. We'll play a game each day, all week. All day I'll play basketball."
As well as wanting to win the gold medal, Omar also dreams of playing for the local basketball team, Leicester Riders.
He was even lucky enough to meet the Riders' head coach, Rob Paternostro who gave Omar some encouraging words. "Good Luck... win those gold medals!"
As well as basketball, Omar follows the Premiership football team Manchester United and is a keen cricket fan, supporting Pakistan.
In the Asian community the issue of having a learning disability is often seen as a taboo subject, but Omar's mother has been supporting him through the good times and bad.
She hopes that after seeing her son compete there will be a change in the way people view disabilities.
"We always need the support and if we support them, they will learn more and more."
Omar's mother believes it's important not only for the Asian community but also the world, that people with learning disabilities can take part in the Olympics.
"If people see them, they will feel they can do something as well. They've got hidden abilities that we can't see."
She hopes the games will help to boost the athletes' confidence as well as raising the profile of those with learning disabilities.
"They feel that they are nothing, but they can be like us. They can do a lot of things, but they always think they can't because of their learning disabilities.
"They can if they have the encouragement and if they have the power. I think they can do a lot of things, but we don't give it that much importance - we should."
last updated: 29/07/2009 at 10:39