Meet Loretta Claiborne: At 69, She's the Oldest American Athlete Set to Compete at the Special Olympics in Berlin
The Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony kicked off in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday. The World Games will welcome 7,000 Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners from approximately 190 countries to compete in 26 sports. The athletes are supported by more than 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers.
This year, Chief Inspiration Officer, Loretta Claiborne, is attending her ninth World Games and competing in Women’s Singles Tennis for the first time. Loretta was born partially blind and intellectually challenged, unable to walk or talk until age four. Eventually, though, she began to run and before long had finished twenty-six marathons.
When asked who was the most influential person in her life, Loretta answered, “Besides my mother, Rita Claiborne, I would have to say Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Mrs. Shriver was like a grandmother to me. We talked on the phone and visited each other often and during our conversations, she taught me so much about life and encouraged me to always do my best. She always said, “show me what you can do, don’t tell me what you can’t do”. Her advice set me up to use my own voice and my athletic talents, which positively changed my life.”
Recently, Loretta joined Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors, on Good Morning America. To keep up with Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, download their app here or watch on ESPN+.
In 2019, Loretta spoke with Maria to discuss the importance of treating people with intellectual disabilities with respect. You can watch their conversation below.