At age 20, Magnus Orri Arnarson is already a role model for people with intellectual disabilities—and without—in Iceland…and beyond.
“I started to train with Special Olympics in a group that was not in my hometown when I was around 11 and continued for four years. Then, in 2016, they opened Special Olympics in my area I started to train with them too, as well as my original group. At one point, I was sometimes training twice a day! I was also involved in coaching younger athletes.“
Magnus Orri Arnarson, Special Olympics Athlete
Magnus is a videographer and video editor for Iceland’s national TV station, RUV and special TV station, Hringbraut, a photographer for the newspaper Frettabladid AND a decorated Special Olympics gymnast and former coach!
To get started on achieving his goals, Magnus began learning skills, confidence and discipline in his early years with Special Olympics. “I started to train with Special Olympics in a group that was not in my hometown when I was around 11 and continued for four years. Then, in 2016, they opened Special Olympics in my area I started to train with them too, as well as my original group. At one point, I was sometimes training twice a day! I was also involved in coaching younger athletes.“
Magnus‘ passion for capturing and editing footage was sparked when he was just 15 years old. He says, “I have now moved onto more serious work; but at the start, it was just making videos and clips for myself.” The move from recording and editing as a hobby into something more serious all began with Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. It was then that Special Olympics Iceland’s National Director approached him to use his talent to promote Team Iceland. Magnus recalls, “I was asked to help Iceland to promote the World Games after they noticed my interest in producing video and taking photos.” An Icelandic video crew who were on the ground in Abu Dhabi also spotted his talent and asked him to do some work for them.
Since then, Magnus has continued to hone his skills and gain experience. All of this hard work paid off in a major way recently when he was offered a contract with both the TV station Hringbraut and newspaper Frettabladid. However, no matter how high he climbs, Magnus will never forget his training and important roles in Special Olympics – from gymnast to coach to Team Iceland video editor.
Special Olympics Iceland National Director Anna Karólína Vilhjálmsdóttir says, “Magnus‘ success is a shining example of the power of inclusion and the work that we are doing to drive awareness in Iceland. A key project that I hope will drive further inclusion and more stories of success for athletes like Magnus is ‘Inclusion through sport of children with intellectual disabilities’ a project funded by EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.”
Magnus is still lending a hand to Special Olympics when needed, creating video, for example, which documented the involvement—for the first time—of Special Olympics Iceland athletes in a recent nationwide basketball tournament.
Magnus has already achieved so much but he is nowhere near finished yet! He says, “I have so many dreams and I believe it is healthy to have many, big dreams. My biggest dream is to work on producing movies in Hollywood. I would love to produce, cut and edit movies that would be in available all over the world, like Marvel and other big movies.” Magnus’ biggest role model is Icelandic musician and composer Hildur Gudnadottir, who won an Oscar for her work on the film, ‘The Joker’. We wouldn‘t bet against some day seeing Magnus join Gudnadottir on a list of revered Icelandic Oscar winners!