New Delhi: A 184-member intellectually challenged athletes from 24 states under the banner of Special Olympics Bharat will represent India at Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Athens, Greece from June 20 to July 4.

While the Games cater to 22 different Olympic-type sports, India will participate in 12 disciplines: Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Bocce, Cycling, Football, Handball, Powerlifting, Rollerskating, Volleyball and Table-Tennis.

The Indian delegation comprises of 254 athletes, coaches and officials.

Air Marshall (Retd) Denzil Keelor, Chairman, Special Olympics Bharat, stated that throughout the week-long competition the children will display their athletic skill, determination and courage at the birthplace of modern sport.

"We are hopeful of rich medal haul this time also as we did during last Games in Shanghai.

It will be one of the largest sporting events held in the world in 2011, aimed at bringing public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities," Keelor told reporters here at the sidelines of the send-off ceremony of the Games.

Sports Minister Ajay Maken, who was also scheduled to attend the event here but could not make it due to sudden illness, wished the athletes through a statement, read out by his private secretary, Amiya Chandra.

"For the Special Olympics in 2007 at Shanghai, we sent a 187-member contingent, which participated in 13 disciplines and won 150 medals.

"This time around we are sending a contingent of 254 members, which would be participating in 12 disciplines at Athens. I am confident that our specially abled athletes will bring home many more medals and laurels," said Maken in a statement.

"The government of India and the sports ministry lay great emphasis on the inclusion of specially abled people in the mainstream. As a step in this direction, the sports ministry has recognised the Special Olympic Bharat as the NSF in 2006 and placed it in the priority category.

"The ministry has been supporting them for conducting coaching camps, equipment and participation in international championship," the statement added.

The Indian squad has been drawn from the following States -- Assam, Karnataka, Bihar, Goa, Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Uttarkhand.

Sreeja from India will be the torch bearer in the final leg of torch run when it reaches the stadium at the opening ceremony.

The athletes were selected over a period of two years and spotted at different national events.

India has been participating in Special Olympics World Summer Games since 1987 and has always been among the medal winners.

In the last Games in Shanghai, China, India bagged a total of 148 medals -- 36 gold, 45 silver and 67 bronze.

Besides the sporting events, the special youth will also participate in various special events like Global Youth Summit, Family Forum, Healthy Athletes, Screening Global Law Enforcement, Torch Run, Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

(Agencies)