Become an Athlete
Special Olympics training and competition is open to any person with an intellectual disability who is at least eight years old and registers to participate in Special Olympics.
There is no maximum age limitation for participation in Special Olympics. The minimum age requirement for participation in competition is eight. Children who are at least six years old can participate in age-appropriate training programs, however not every delegation is able to accomodate six and seven year olds.
Young Athletes is an innovative sports play program for children with intellectual disabilities, designed to introduce them to the world of sports prior to Special Olympics eligibility at age eight. For more information, visit our Young Athletes page.
Identifying Persons with Intellectual Disabilities
For the purposes of determining if an individual is eligible to participate in Special Olympics, they must meet one or more of the following requirements:
- Has been identified by an agency or professional as having a intellectual disability as determined by their localities
- Has a cognitive delay, as determined by standardized measures such as intelligent quotient or "IQ" testing or other measures that are generally accepted within the professional community as being a reliable measurement of the existence of a cognitive delay
- Has a closely related developmental disability. A "closely related developmental disability" means having functional limitations in both general learning (such as IQ) and in adaptive skills (such as in recreation, work, independent living, self-direction or self-care)
Two of the most common intellectual disabilities Special Olympics athletes have are Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Individuals whose disabilities are based solely on a physical, behavioral or emotional disability or a specific learning or sensory disability are not eligible to participate in Special Olympics as an athlete.
Below are the forms an athlete must complete in order to begin the registration process at the State Office.
If you download forms from this page, please leave any references to "Area" and "Delegation" open. We'll help you determine what delegations may work best for you based on the athlete's location, interests and age. Completed forms may be sent to:
Special Olympics Minnesota
Attn: New Athlete Placement
100 Washington Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Once we receive and verify the completed forms, we'll be back in touch with you regarding placement options. This typically takes a few weeks, but it could be longer around heavy competition times. Because training and competition are considered equally important in the Special Olympics experience, there are deadlines by which athlete placement referrals must be made according to sport season:
||Spring Sports (Aquatics, Basketball and Powerlifting)
||Summer Sports (Athletics, Gymnastics, Tennis and Volleyball)
||Fall Sports (Bocce, Equestrian, Golf and Softball)
||Bowling, Flag Football
||Winter Sports (Alpine Skiing, Figure Skating, Poly Hockey and Snowboarding )
If you have questions at any time, please contact Kelly Monicatti at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-604-1264. If you are sending an email and would like an information packet, please include a mailing address in your message.