Our photographers Roger Job and Eric Herchaft were invited by the Special Olympics Committee to make each an in-depth portrait of one athlete and to follow him before, during and after the competition. It’s an ongoing work, but here are the first results of last week’s competition.

Special Olympics is a global movement serving more than 4 million people with intellectual disabilities in more than 170 countries.

Athletes with intellectual disabilities compete in sports like football, judo, or swimming. Basketball and table tennis teams consist of a mix of persons with and without intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics operates in seven distinct parts of the world. The 2014 Special Olympics European Summer Games in Antwerp are one of these regional games.

The Special Olympics event is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. It has been dubbed the “games of the heart” because it is meant to be more than just a sports event.

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

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