Community support has allowed the Border to host more sports at the 2018 Australian Deaf Games than the previous competition in Adelaide.
More than 850 deaf and hard of hearing competitors, parents, educators and interpreters have started arriving in Albury-Wodonga for the week-long event, which begins on Saturday.
A children’s mini games will be held at Wodonga’s Willow Park on Friday, with the original three-hour event to be shortened owing to the expected hot conditions.
Deaf Sports Australia’s Garry West-Bail said the 17 sports in this year’s games included swimming, not held at the 2016 games, and an aquathon and triathlon, making their games debut.
Mr West-Bail said being able to link in with existing Border competitions made both Sunday’s swimming carnival and Saturday’s athletics program easier and less costly to stage.
“It’s been wonderful working with the local community, because they’ve been so great to work with at so many different levels,” he said.
Albury-Wodonga Triathlon Club’s Jo Homer said her group was excited and honoured to be part of the games.
“The AWTC has always promoted an environment of encouragement and inclusion and the positive lifestyle that sports offer,” she said.
Deaf awareness training, covering topics such as basic Auslan, deaf culture and communication strategies, has been held leading up to the games, with the final session in Albury yesterday.
As well, Vicdeaf and Australia Post have provided Auslan classes led by the Border’s Will Taffe.
The next week will also include social opportunities like open captioned films, a mountain bike ride, yoga, trivia night, theatre and an LGBTIQA+ social night.
Mr West-Bail said the Australian Deaf Games were not just about competition.
“It’s about the social sharing, the culture, where people can get together and enjoy whatever the event is,” he said.
Albury Entertainment Centre will host Saturday’s opening ceremony from 6pm, with a kick-off party to follow in QEII Square.
Mr West-Bail said preparations now were “very much dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, have we got enough of this, have we got enough of that?”.
“There’s dead-set excitement about the games starting, it’s obviously been two and a half years in the planning,” he said.