The 2017 World Dwarf Games will be held Aug. 4 to 12 at the University of Guelph.
More than 400 athletes from 19 countries are expected to take part, making it the most popular dwarf games in the event’s 24-year history.
Held every four years, the games are the largest sporting event exclusively for athletes with dwarfism. People of all ages and abilities compete, from elite athletes (including several Paralympians) to TV and movie stars to first-time competitors. Four divisions include “Futures” for children under age six and “Masters” for people over age 35.
“The games bring children, young adults, men and women with dwarfism together from around the world to participate in sporting events in the spirit of competition, international co-operation and goodwill, regardless of athletic ability,” said organizer Heather Anderson.
Anderson, who has a 19-year-old son with dwarfism, headed a group of Ontario volunteers who submitted Canada’s bid to host the 2017 games, along with support from Little People of Ontario.
Previous Dwarf Games were held in the United States, England, Ireland and France. The last Canadian games were held in 2001 in Toronto.
Athletes compete as part of a country team or as a member of a mixed-country team, with people of similar stature. Athletes are organized by dwarfism classification, based on body proportions. There are more than 200 different kinds of dwarfism.
Sporting events are: archery, badminton, basketball, marksmanship, swimming, powerlifting, track and field, kurling (form of curling), floor hockey, boccia, table tennis, soccer and volleyball.
U of G was selected as the host because of Guelph’s central location and the University’s reputation for being a caring, open community, Anderson said.
She is looking for volunteers from U of G and the greater Guelph community to help at the Games, including refereeing events and helping with logistics. “We have some students helping through the Canada summer jobs program and a couple of paid sports technicians, but for the most part, this is a volunteer, family-run event; we need all the help we can get,” Anderson said.