UAE

Oman wins football gold at Special Olympics

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Oman won gold after beating Syria 3-0.

Omani footballer Mahmoud Hamad Alhakmani dedicated his two goals in the final to his home country and thanked Abu Dhabi for hosting the Special Olympics IX MENA Games.

Oman were 3-0 winners over Syria in the final played at Zayed Sports City, with Mohammed Alruzaiqi grabbing the third goal.

“First thing we thank God for everything,” said Alhakmani. “We are grateful to Abu Dhabi for their efforts. The feeling of winning cannot be described and by taking home the gold we will get a great welcome from our country. We are excited to raise our flag.

“I dedicate our win to the Omani people first and foremost. We also would like to thank the UAE and the Emirati fans for continuously supporting us and for everything they have done for us,” he added.

Saif Al Seyabi, the Oman coach, said Syria had given his team a tough challenge in a competitive final football match.

“Syria was a great opponent, but we had good opportunities and scored three goals and won. We thank God for this win,” he said.

“The Omani, Syrian, and Kuwaiti teams are almost at the same level. God was with us today and our plans worked well. We dedicate our win to our wise leaders and to the Omani people and we promise to bring back home the gold at the World Games in 2019.”

Saif bin Saif bin Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Rubaiee, Head of the Omani Delegation at the Special Olympics IX MENA Games, said the players and all of Oman would savor the victory.

Pointing to the celebrating Omani footballers, he said: “Our feelings are clear. The players are champions of the Special Olympics.

“They are expressing their joy today after winning the gold after a tough game. We are all happy they have reached this level.”

Al Rubaiee praised the UAE for hosting a successful and enjoyable Games for all of the countries, athletes and teams involved.

“The organisers did a fantastic job and of course we wish the best for our brothers in the UAE and will continuously support them.”

More than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries travelled to Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games, which is the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes took part in 16 sports across eight venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.

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UAE

Special Olympics ends with thrilling basketball final between Saudi Arabia and UAE

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Saudi Arabia edged out UAE in a thrilling contest.

After countless displays of heroics, sporting excellence and incredible achievements by individual athletes and teams, the Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018  came to its thrilling, fun-packed end on Tuesday.

The three-day Abu Dhabi Games were filled with wonderful moments that will live on in the memories of the athletes, their families and spectators forever.

The last day of competition saw two divisional men’s basketball finals, with the UAE facing off against Saudi and Egypt taking to the court to play Chinese Taipei.

Each of the four teams, which were made up of athletes with determination alongside able-bodied colleagues, gave their all in two exciting and end to end games.

In a free-flowing match, the UAE and Saudi players pushed each other to the limit until the final quarter when Saudi eventually outscored their Emirati hosts to win by 43 points to the UAE’s 33.

Egypt and the UAE played out a thriller.

Egypt and the UAE played out a thriller.

Saudi player Mohammad Mousa said he was delighted with his team’s victory in the final.

He said: “We were thrilled to have made it to the final but to beat the UAE, which were one of the strongest teams in the competition, is something special. It was not an easy game as the UAE have great players.

“We are happy to be in Abu Dhabi and to able to play in the MENA games. The crowd was amazing and really supported both teams with songs and chants to encourage all of the player on each side to do their best. They made it so exciting. I would like to thank everyone who came to watch the game for their support.

“I’m looking forward to returning home to Saudi to tell everyone, my wife, my sons and my family, that I have won a gold medal at the Games.”

In the other final game, Egypt and Chinese Taipei matched each other basket for basket until the last seconds when the Asian team secured a narrow victory of 51 points to Egypt’s 49.

While the players performed heroics on the court, the crowds did their part to make the final day extra special with the stands packed full of spectators who sang songs of encouragement for both teams.

Thamer Al Khan was supporting the Emirati team but enthusiastically joined in the chants backing the Saudi players.

“All of the fans wanted to make the final game extra special for the athletes,” Al Khan said. “Even though the game was competitive and only one team could win, it was important for the players to feel the love and support of everyone who came to watch.

“By shouting chants and singing songs of encouragement, we as fans showed that we fully support both teams and that we truly appreciate the hard work and dedication they have shown throughout these Games.”

Saudi Arabia pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Saudi Arabia pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Emirati basketball player Mariam Al Mazouri played in the day’s women’s tournament. She described competing in the Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in her home city of Abu Dhabi as “like playing in my own home”.

“The Games have been amazing. I have loved every minute I played, especially in the games where we beat Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Algeria,” she said.

“Personally, I think I have played OK. There were games when I scored points and there were games where I could have scored more, but overall it has been wonderful.”

Mohammad Al Hajjar, who played for Syria’s basketball team, said he will remember the experience of playing in the UAE capital forever.

“I was really happy to be able to represent my country at the Special Olympics MENA games. This is my second Games and I’m really happy that we achieved some great wins.

“The whole team trained very hard for these games and we all played very well. I would like to thank the whole of the UAE for organizing these games and inviting all of the athletes to come and play here.”

Mohammad added that his teammates had been spurred on by huge support from not only their fellow Syrians, but also spectators from other countries.

“The crowds have been like a dream,” he said. “They supported all of us in every game we played and helped us to play better.”

In the finals of the powerlifting, Libya’s Ammar Al-Shatshat took home the gold after lifting a combined weight of 507.5kg in division M6 of the bench, deadlift and squat.

Emirati athletes Ahmed Al Honsani and Hamad Al Ali won 4th and 5th place respectively in division M6, with Ahmed lifting a total of 365kg and Hamad 330kg.

In the women’s competition division F3, Libya’s Monia Ezawi won gold for a combined lift in the bench, deadlift and squat of 262.5kg with Hanan Al Shehyari from the UAE winning silver for a total lift of 140kg. Her compatriot Roodha Al-Ahbabi won bronze with a 110kg combined lift.

More than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries  travelled to Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games, which is the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes took part in 16 sports across eight venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.

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Emirati runner wins gold at Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018

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On the home straight: Mariam Al Zaabi.

UAE distance runner Mariam Al Zaabi brought the crowd to their feet with a heart-warming and gold medal-winning effort in the 1,500m race at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Day two – Monday – of the Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018 got off to a fantastic start at the NYUAD campus on Saadiyat Island with the Emirati long-distance athlete sealing first place in her race.

The runner paced her way around the track to take the gold medal, waving her arms to the cheering crowd and soaking up the applause.

Speaking after her run, Mariam said: “I am very happy and not even tired. I was so excited with the crowd cheering me on from the stands.

“I’m training all the time with my coach who helps me to get faster. Hopefully I can win more medals at the World Games next year.”

Top spot for local runner.

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