Peter Wheeler, CEO of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, which will be staged in Abu Dhabi, says they could not have asked for a better city to host the competition as well as next year’s MENA edition.
The capital was awarded the rights to stage the World Games earlier in January. It will see more than 7,000 athletes with special needs and disabilities from 170 nations compete across different multi-disciplines.
Before that, Abu Dhabi will host the Special Olympics MENA Regional Games next year from March 14-23. With more than 1,800 athletes from 33 nations set to compete, the event will act as the dress rehearsal for the elite competition 12 months later.
Yas Marina Circuit was confirmed as the venue for March’s opening ceremony on Tuesday and Wheeler insists the UAE capital ticks all the boxes when it comes to infrustructure and achieving their objectives.
“To be partnering with Yas Marina Circuit really helps the Special Olympics be a place where it wants to be,” he said.
“The World Games gives Abu Dhabi the opportunity to highlight the achievements of the skills and achievements of our athletes. It will raise its profile. To be in a city like Abu Dhabi and have access to world class venues like Yas Marina Circuit, speaks volumes to the mission of the Games.
“The most important thing is the people. The welcoming, the hospititality, the committment, authenticity of the people in the UAE really welcomes the Special Olympics. We could not have found a city or an Emirate or country, that is in perfectly in line with the mission and value of the Special Olympics.”
While it will be the first time the World Games will be held in the Middle East, the MENA edition, which was last hosted in Egypt four years ago, will be staged in the UAE for the third time following Dubai (2006) and Abu Dhabi (2008).
Among the sports on the schedule are cycling, triathlon, football, tennis and bowling with Yas Marina Circuit, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) and New York University Abu Dhabi among three of the locations confirmed for both events.
Wheeler is optimistic that any changes will be minor for 2019.
“The MENA Regional Games is a smaller event but it’s the most robust event that has ever been staged for a World Games,” he said. “No other local organising committee has run an intensive test event leading up to the World Games. It will certainly test many things but we will see what we need to refine so that we can put the best possible Games in 2019.”
There is no shortage of top sporting events in the Emirates and here’s our one-stop diary of everything that’s going on — welcome to our weekly feature, What’s Up UAE.
Are you attending or participating in one of the following events?
Friday, October 13
Can Sri Lanka carry their superb Test form into the ODI series in Dubai?
VENUE: Dubai International Stadium
START TIME: 3:30PM
TICKETS: On sale at the venue
Friday, October 13 – Saturday, October 14
The Arabian Gulf League resumes after the international break with top of the table Al Wahda looking to maintain their unbeaten league form when they face second-placed Al Wasl at Zabeel Stadium on Friday (8:00pm).
In the other fixtures, Shabab Al Ahli take on Emirates Club, Al Ain are away to Ajman and Al Dhafra entertain Al Jazira.
MORE INFO: AGL Website
Friday, October 13
In-form Dubai Exiles will look to continue their impressive start to the season when they host Jebel Ali Dragons at the Sevens Stadium.
Jacques Benade’s side have been in tantalising form – crushing Dubai Eagles 85-8 and Dubai Hurricanes 40-7 in their opening two matches.
In the other games, Bahrain are away to Abu Dhabi Saracens and Dubai Eagles take on Dubai Hurricanes.
With seven teams competing in the league, Abu Dhabi Harlequins will have a bye in this round of fixtures.
MORE INFO: Yalla Rugby
Friday, October 13 – Saturday, October 14
The Al Ain International U-18’s Jiu-Jitsu Championship comes as part of the UAEJJF 2017/18 agenda for the sports season and global classification.
Among the athletes participating in the tournament are Khalifa Al Kaabi, Omar Al Fadhli, Hamed Al Hanaei, and Khaled Al Shehhi.
The tournament will also feature a strong participation of female athletes, including UAE national team stars Bashayer Al Matroushi, Reem Al Hashemi, Moza Al Shamsi, Balqis Abdul Karim, and Shama Al Kalbani.
MORE INFO: UAEJJF
Saturday, October 14
The Roy Nasr Memorial Triathlon is now in its fifth year and the event has gone from strength strength with more than 1,000 participants set to take part on Saturday.
So far about 800 people have signed up for the event from 06:45 at Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Hotel in Dubai, to honour the life of the Lebanese.
Open to 11-year-olds and above, there are different categories for adults and juniors, no matter what your background experience and ability are.
Super Sprint consists of a 375km swim, 10km bike ride followed by a 2.5km run. For those who are more advanced, then the Sprint options are available, swimming for 750m, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run.
MORE INFO: Roy Nasr Memorial Triathlon
It’s official. The Melbourne Storm are the premiers – and this time it’s not getting taken away from them. (We hope.)
Having had two premierships stripped because of salary cap rorting this is just the third title for the side from the Victorian capital – and this is one they clearly deserve.
Craig Bellamy’s side lost just four games all season. The only side to better that record since the NRL was formed in 1998 was Bellamy’s own Storm side of 2007 who lost just three games, but that was one of the years that Melbourne were stripped of their title.
So this 2017 Storm side can rightly lay claim to being the greatest ever team to play in the NRL.
Their comfortable 34-6 Grand Final victory over the giant-killing North Queensland Cowboys was built on the back of a trio of vintage stars, who seem to just get better as the years roll by – captain and hooker Cameron Smith, full-back Billy Slater and half-back Cooper Cronk.
The same trio that Queensland’s decade-long dominance of State of Origin has been built around.
The Cowboys battled bravely right to the end but were barely in the contest right from the outset against a Storm side that were clinical and relentless from the opening whistle.
Melbourne wanted to send out Cronk in style in his final game in purple. They did that and more.
It’s fitting that the final club match from the all-star trio saw all three bring their best to the game’s biggest stage, scoring or creating four tries. They got plenty of assistance from their dominant forward pack and some moments of brilliance from exciting young stars like Josh Addo-Carr.
The scoreline reflected the sheer dominance of Melbourne’s performances right from Round 1 this year but did not fairly reflect the effort the Cowboys put into a contest.
The match started badly for the men from Townsville with play held up for several minutes while prop Shaun Fensom received medical attention and was taken from the field after just four minutes.
Attempting to stop a charging Jesse Bromwich along with teammate Ethan Lowe, the latter landed awkwardly on Fensom’s ankle. He immediately signaled for the trainer and there was a delay while the 28-year-old was administered pain relief and loaded onto a medicab.
While North Queensland managed to weather the storm, pardon the pun, for the opening 20 minutes, the favourites started to flex their muscle from midway through the half.
First, Will Chambers received a Cowboys tap-back from an attacking bomb near Melbourne’s end and offloaded to speedy winger Addo-Carr who streaked 70 metres to open the scoring.
After a few more sets of dominant yardage and a Smith grubber for a repeat set, Melbourne extended their lead when Felise Kaufusi carved past Te Maire Martin off a nice Slater pass in the 28th minute.
When the Cowboys’ Antonio Winterstein fumbled a Cronk attacking grubber on his own line it set the stage for yet another Storm assault and this time Slater went himself, slicing through an increasingly brittle Cowboys left edge defence to make it 18-0 at the break.
The Cowboys desperately needed to be first to score in the second half against the competition’s best front-runners and they got some help from the Storm, who handed over five straight penalties to camp the Cowboys in attacking range and allow Martin to slice through.
That was as good as it got though as an unstoppable Storm exploded late, in similar fashion to how they put the Broncos to the sword a week earlier in a 30-0 demolition.
Bega-born lock Dale Finucane powered onto a Smith flat ball at the line to burst over in the 64th minute; a simple error from Kane Linnett coughed the ball up to Addo-Carr who offloaded to an unmarked Curtis Scott three minutes later.
Addo-Carr then bagged his double in the 73rd minute after some lovely lead-up work from Cronk and Slater before a beautiful long cut-out from Tohu Harris to seal the dominant 34-6 result.
The legendary Storm trio lingered on the field long after the trophy presentation – and well they deserved it.
To paraphrase one who knew something about great victories, “Here was a team. When comes such another.”