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Volleyball stars united with Special Olympics Athletes

Special Olympics Ambassador for volleyball Vladimir Grbic, who won gold for Serbia in volleyball at the Sydney Olympics, spikes during the Unified Volleyball game
Stare Jablonki, Poland - July 7, 2013 - One of the world’s greatest ever volleyball players Vladimir Grbic joined Polish volleyball stars to play alongside Special Olympics athletes in a Unified Volleyball game at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships Mazury 2013 on Sunday to promote greater respect and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities.

Taking place on Centre Court at Stare Jablonki before the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship Mazury 2013 men's bronze and gold medal matches, the all-star game featured four Special Olympics athletes from Poland and Serbia playing alongside Olympic champion Vladimir Grbic as well as former Poland national players Sebastian Swiderski, Pawel Papke, Zygmunt Chajzer and Cezary Pazura.

The Unified Volleyball exhibition game brought together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities as teammates to showcase the power of Special Olympics in helping to unite communities and foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion. It also served as the perfect opportunity to celebrate Grbic’s new role as Special Olympics Ambassador for volleyball and the appointment of Paul Papke and Sebastian Swiderski as Ambassadors for Special Olympics Poland.

Prior to the all-star game, Special Olympics athletes demonstrated to fans how a Unified Volleyball game works with an exhibition match with teammates without intellectual disabilities. Each team consisted of two players with intellectual disabilities and two without.

“The participation of Special Olympics at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in
Stare Jablonki is a great honour for us," Grbić said. “To showcase the power of Special Olympics Unified Sports on such a huge global stage like this presents an incredible opportunity for Special Olympics to increase awareness and educate communities about acceptance and inclusion for all people.”

The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships is the biggest beach volleyball tournament in the world. The top 192 athletes from around the world played on specially prepared courts in Stare Jablonki. The Championships are transmitted to nearly 1.65 billion TV viewers in over 130 countries across five continents.

Unified Volleyball is quickly growing in Poland. To date 100 Special Olympics athletes play volleyball with trainings and games taking place on a daily basis throughout the country. Worldwide more than 100,000 Special Olympics athletes compete in volleyball across 100 National Programmes.

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