Help us make a difference!

World Games: Becoming a National Champion

June 25, 2011

Philip Gruppetta’s bowling talents were apparent at the early age of 11 when he was training with Special Olympics twice a week. He debuted on the world stage at the 2007 Games in Shanghai, where he won silver in his division, and now he comes to Athens to win.  But his ambitions don’t end there. Philip would like to become the National Champion in tenpin bowling in Malta.


Philip Gruppetta will be competing in bowling in the 2011 Special Olympics Games in Athens, Greece.

Becoming a National Champion

According to Malta Tenpin Bowling Association President, Mr. Julian Bonello, “Philip has always shown signs of being an elite athlete and his selection to represent Europe in our Sport of Tenpin Bowling is not only an honour for himself, but his family, coaches, Special Olympics Malta as well as our own National Federation. While he is still only fifteen years old, Philip has progressed through the ranks and is currently a First Division bowler in our National Leagues, with a composite average across all Leagues and Championships of 174.”

Philip placed fourth in the 2011 Open Gold Cup from 22 bowlers, missing out of a top-three place by only five pins. He also placed fourth in Malta’s most recent Intermediate National Championships for athletes under the age of 23.

Similarly, European Bowling Champion Sue Abela describes Philip as “a very talented bowler… driven by his passion for the sport of bowling. The sport of bowling in return allows him to develop his physical fitness, demonstrate his courage and allows him to meet people and make new friends.  I think Philip has the potential to be a top European bowler in his category. Philip is our Maltese star.”

His parents agree, but say his success comes not only from his natural talent, but his hard work.  He is a “hard worker, fighter, and a competitor who loves sport and enjoys the company of other players.” His parents tried several times to get Philip interested in others sports, such as football but he was often overlooked by coaches who concentrated on advanced athletes. 

Philip became frustrated and angry but his parents didn’t give up.  They found Special Olympics Malta. There, Philip began bowling and received the attention and support that he needed from coaches and volunteers. As his parents describe, “bowling gave him the confidence, self esteem, friends, goals, ambitions, a social life. Philip became a very different person through bowling and Special Olympics Malta.”

It may have been enough for Philip’s parents to see him enjoy himself in bowling but Philip, and his coaches, had higher expectations.

In the spirit of Special Olympics, his coach, Ms. Anna Calleja, kept pushing Philip to go farther, and to pursue a new best.  She believed that, given proper coaching and training, Philip would achieve his full potential and compete on par with elite bowlers.

Support Special Olympics

Help us reach one more athlete.


Become a Volunteer

Find out about the many ways you can get involved in the Special Olympics programs nearest you. There are 58 country-level offices in the Europe/Eurasia region.


Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 226 worldwide locations.


Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »

Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »

Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »

Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »

Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »

Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »

Special Olympics Blog

The Start of the Solution

Young people from around the globe with and without intellectual disabilities are coming together at the SOGenUin Summit as part of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games with one goal - to change the world.


read more »

Posted on 2015-07-23 by Natalie

go to blog »


Special Olympics - Become a Fan

Your Donation Helps Transform Lives Through Sports!

Become a Sustaining Partner today - monthly giving is an easy and convenient way to support trainings and competitions all year long.

For a limited time, when you become a Sustaining Partner a generous donor will match your generosity with an additional $50 gift to Special Olympics.