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Disability, Sport Recreation

WWE and Special Olympics Australia join forces in star-studded event

Special Olympics Australia 2 mins read
WWE stars Drew McIntyre, LA Knight, Candice LRae and Indi Hartwell pose with Special Olympics Australia's athlete Russell 'Rusty' Nelligan

Sydney, Australia, 27 February 2024: Four wrestling superstars joined Special Olympics Australia’s athletes in a milestone lawn bowl match to promote inclusivity and visibility in sport through a partnership between WWE and Special Olympics.

The WWE stars landed down under late last week to take part in the long awaited 2024 Elimination Chamber, which took place over the weekend (24 February). The 2024 Elimination Chamber is the first WWE event to occur in the Asia-Pacific region this year and the first of its kind to be hosted in an outdoor venue – Optus Stadium. Twenty Special Olympics Australia athletes also attended the event to cheer on the superstars, including Aussie World Champion Rhea Ripley.

Prior to the elimination match, WWE stars Drew McIntyre, LA Knight, Australian-born Indi Hartwell and Candice LeRae came together alongside Special Olympic Australia’s athletes to compete in a Unified lawn bowls event, which took place on 23 February at the South Perth Bowling Club.

WWE Superfan and Special Olympics Australia athlete, Russell ‘Rusty' Nelligan, who attended the event, spoke of the experience of meeting the stars face to face: “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.”

“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 Pierre Comis, CEO of Special Olympics Australia.

Over the past few years, WWE superstars have participated in similar iterations of the lawn ball event in Perth, including Unified soccer in Italy, Unified flag football in Arizona and TopGolf in Los Angeles, along with several other events, panels, and leadership conferences.

WWE's partnership with Special Olympics dates back to the 1995 World Games in New Haven, and more recently has included collaboration through events and activations at the 2023 World Games in Berlin.

About us:

About Special Olympics Australia

Special Olympics Australia is part of a global community which brings joy and inclusion to people with intellectual disability and autism through sport. Through our network of dedicated volunteers and quality coaches we provide safe and supportive playing environments where people with disability can aspire to anything, feel the thrill of accomplishment, and achieve beyond expectation. 


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