COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Special Olympics Missouri has announced that it will hold its summer games in Columbia starting next year.
The three-day Missouri summer games will begin May 29, 2012, and the event will be held in Columbia for each of the next three years. It will be the second time the event will be held in Columbia.
Columbia also hosted the games from 2002 to 2007. Since 2007, the event has been held in Springfield.
Cathy Scroggs, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Missouri, where the games will be held, said the Special Olympics will bring athletic competition to the campus when most other sports are on hiatus.
"They bring a vitality to our campus at a time when it's pretty quiet," Scroggs told the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Former Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm, who serves as chairman for the Special Olympics Missouri board of directors, said Columbia's central location in the state will be beneficial for Special Olympics athletes across the state. He said the games will bring up to 4,000 athletes, coaches and staff to Columbia, and more than 1,500 spectators.
Mandi Steward, a spokeswoman for Special Olympics Missouri, said the event will cost $190,000, half of which she said the organization will raise through sponsorship. The University of Missouri will provide discounted lodging and food for event participants.
Leanna Krogmann, a Columbia athlete who will compete in the 2011 Special Olympics World Games, was on hand for the Thursday announcement. She and five other Missouri athletes are part of the 315-member U.S. team competing this year in Athens, Greece. The event will feature more than 7,000 athletes from around the world, according to the Special Olympics web site, and Krogmann will compete in several swimming categories.
"I have been training hard for the past year," she said.
Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com