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How daughter with Down syndrome got Akiko Thomson involved in Special Olympics Pilipinas

Special Olympics Pilipinas chairperson and president Akiko Thomson-Guevara will lead the delegation of the Philippines to the Special Olympics World Games this June 17 to 25 in Berlin, Germany.

The delegation will include six athletes with intellectual disabilities and will compete in sports bocce, aquatics, and athletics.

The Games aim to provide a platform for athletes with intellectual disabilities to achieve their full potential.

"We provide year-round sporting opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Last November, we had our first national games and that's where we selected our athletes for the World Games," Thomson-Guevara said on "Surprise Guest with Pia Arcangel."

But how did the three-time Olympian get involved with Special Olympics Pilipinas?

"The reason I got into Special Olympics naman is, because my youngest daughter, Sachiko has Down syndrome," Thomson-Guevara told Arcangel.

"When she was born, I knew that I would be involved in this community, in some capacity or another. I didn't know how, but when Special Olympics Pilipinas approached us, it just made perfect sense. This is sports and special needs."

The swimming icon was hesitant at first to take charge of the organization and wanted to only be a part or ambassador of the group.

She eventually accepted the job and Thomson-Guevara said she is grateful for the role she currently does.

"If you think about it, all these individuals, these opportunities are not as rampant and available for them as they would be for a typical person. I know firsthand how sports develops a person skills-wise, character and competence-wise, and how much so also for the athletes with intellectual disabilities," she said.

"I feel like I'm only at the cusp of it, because I've just joined the board. And so that's why I'm going to the World Games next month, just so that I have a full appreciation also of the work that we're doing," she added.

Aside from being head of Special Olympics Pilipinas, Thomson-Guevara also remains active in the sports community as president of the Philippine Olympians Association. 

—Justin Kenneth Carandang/MGP, GMA Integrated News