Capability tops disability at Special Olympics State Games in Western Australia

Special Olympics State Games athletes are vying for selection in next year's National Games in Tasmania. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

More than 100 athletes are competing in a different type of Olympics in Perth's western suburbs this weekend. 

The Special Olympics State Games are the first step towards international competition in "the third Olympics".

Outside of the Olympics and Paralympics, the Special Olympics is the only organisation authorised to use the word "Olympics".

While the Olympics and Paralympics focus on achievement at an elite level, the Special Olympics provide year-round grassroots sport for people with intellectual disabilities.

Athletes are hoping to be selected for the National Games. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

The grounds of Hale School — where the State Games are being held this weekend — have been filled with cheers and jubilation as athletes competed in a series of track and field events.

More than 100 athletes are taking part in this weekend's Special Olympics State Games. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Special Olympics Australia director Tanya Brown said the games were a joy to watch.

Athletes will also compete in basketball, bocce, soccer and swimming over the weekend.

Tanya Brown says the joy the athletes get out of competing at the games is "unbridled and unfiltered". (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Teams for next year's National Games in Launceston will be chosen from this weekend's events.

An Australian team will then be selected for the World Games in Berlin the following year.

Special Olympics Australia director and state committee member Tanya Brown says the joy the athletes get from competing is on display. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Athletes 'achieve in their own right'

Dot Shipard has been involved in the Special Olympics for almost three decades.

Between helping as an official on Saturday, she mingled with athletes, supporting them and celebrating their successes.

Dot Shipard has been involved in the Special Olympics for close to three decades. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

One of those athletes was Waiata Johnston, who travelled from Esperance to compete this weekend.

"I'm like a second mum to her," Ms Shipard jokes.

Waiata Johnston travelled from Esperance to take part in the Special Olympics. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Ms Shipard first got involved in the Special Olympics while she was a swimming teacher in the Goldfields.

"It's the joy to see them achieve, where normally in this world people put them down and they can't achieve, but these athletes, they achieve in their own right.

"If people would just give them a go, they're better than their peers."

Dot Shipard is a games official and also supports competitors. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Another one of the athletes was Reece, 13, who was taking part in his second Special Olympics State Games.

"It was great," he said. "My favourite part of it is just [having] fun."

Reece is taking home a medal from his second Special Olympics. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Competitors Andres Guzman and Kellee Thomas took to the court for the basketball competition.

It was the first state games either had competed in.

"I want to show them my talent," Mr Guzman said, who hoped to play basketball for other teams in Perth.

Andres Guzman was keen to display his skills on the basketball court. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Ms Thomas has already been playing in other competitions and said sport has had a major effect on her life.

"Meeting friends, seeing my friends, seeing my fiance all the time and just meeting new people," she said.

Ms Thomas also plays football, cricket and netball, but now has her eyes set on the coming World Games.

Kellee Thomas has her sights set on the World Games. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

"I want to try out for that as well and try to get in at least," Ms Thomas said.

"It would be my first time getting into global games so, hopefully, I do get in."

There has been plenty of camaraderie on display among the athletes. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Changing mindsets, fostering inclusion

While sport is the most visible part of the games, it is about much more.

"Sport is such a great icebreaker, it just removes bias the moment you compete together or [watch] competition," Ms Brown said.

"It's changing mindset, it's fostering engagement, it's fostering inclusion and just increasing awareness and education."

Basketball is a popular sport among competitors. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Ms Brown is part of a team working on a potential bid for Perth to host the 2027 World Games.

"The opportunity is enormous, and it's a catalyst opportunity to create systemic change for inclusion," Ms Brown said.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Tanya Brown (centre) is hoping Perth could host the 2027 World Games.  (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

The games also include health screenings, to help address poor health outcomes that are prevalent in people with intellectual disabilities.

Western Australia's Sports and Recreation Minister, Tony Buti, said he had not received a proposal for Perth to host the games but was open to the idea.

Competition on the basketball court is fierce. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)

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