One of the main differences that sets Special Olympics apart from other sport organizations is divisioning. View this Divisioning video created by Special Olympics Inc.
An athlete’s age group is determined by the athlete’s age on the opening date of the Games or competition. The age of the oldest athlete on a team is used to determine the age group in which that team will compete. Depending on the type of competition (individual or team) and the sport, age groups may differ.
Maximum Effort Rule (formerly known as the Honest Effort Rule): Athletes are also expected to give maximum effort when competing. This is the only way the divisioning process can work as it was intended. Athletes who do not participate honestly and with maximum effort in all preliminary trials and/or finals violate the true spirit of competition and may even be disqualified from competition. SONC will use the maximum effort rule for state-level competition in aquatics (swimming) and athletics (track and field).