Special Olympics and WWE event encourages inclusivity

Posted 1 month ago by Georgie Waters
Sport is not all about winning — a recent event is helping to increase inclusivity in sports for people with disability. [Source: Shuttershock]
Sport is not all about winning — a recent event is helping to increase inclusivity in sports for people with disability. [Source: Shuttershock]

Wrestlers from WWE and Special Olympics athletes joined forces for an inclusive day of sport.

Key points:

  • WWE wrestlers and Special Olympics athletes came together recently to promote inclusivity in sports
  • The benefits of making sports more accessible to people with disability include an increase in club members and more connected sporting communities


Recently, two well-known organisations came together to create an inclusive day of sports at a lawn bowls club in Perth. This partnership between World Wrestling Entertainment [WWE] and Special Olympics is strong, as it was initially established in the 1995 World Games in New Haven. It has since included many other collaborations.

The WWE stars arrived in Australia to participate in the long-awaited 2024 Elimination Chamber, where 20 Special Olympic athletes cheered on their favourite wrestlers.

Before their time in the wrestling ring, WWE stars Drew McIntyre, LA Knight, Australian-born Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae went to South Perth Bowling Club to highlight the importance of inclusivity as they played a match of lawn bowls with Special Olympics athletes. 

One of the event attendees was Russell ‘Rusty’ Nelligan, a Special Olympics athlete who spoke highly of the event and who is also a big fan of WWE.

“It was truly a dream come true to compete against WWE Superstars and I am so grateful I could participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to raise awareness around the importance of making sport accessible to all, alongside some of WWE’s biggest stars,” said Mr Nelligan.

With almost 20 percent of Australians living with disability, encouraging sporting clubs and groups to make their activities more accessible and inclusive for people with disability could help Australia become even more united. 

It’s not only Special Olympics athletes that would like to see more accessibility of sports for people with disability. CEO of Special Olympics Australia, Pierre Comis, would like to see other organisations create a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder.

“Special Olympics Australia was beyond excited to welcome the WWE superstars to Perth and watch the match. By giving the SOA athletes a chance to compete with and watch such talented individuals, we can give some of the most marginalised and excluded people in our community an opportunity to succeed and feel pride for their achievements. I urge more sporting organisations to look at WWE as an inspiration for what they could do to make sport more inclusive and create opportunities for people with autism or intellectual disabilities to reach for the stars,” said Mr Comis.

The Australian Sports Commission highlights the numerous benefits of making a club more inclusive and accessible to people with disability. Not only does including people with disability help create a better-connected sporting community, but an increase in memberships, volunteers and participants can help your club meet strategic objectives. 

If you have disability and are looking to get started in playing sport, there are many different options available which can be searched by state on the Disability Gateway website, an initiative from the Australian Government. Both recreational and competitive sports are included in this national directory. 

Currently, the most popular sports for Australians with disability include swimming, cycling, athletics and football. However, non-playing roles, such as refereeing are also good ways for people with disability to participate in sporting clubs and activities if direct participation is limited by mobility issues. 

What are your favourite inclusive sports?

Let the team at Talking Disability know on social media. 

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