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.”
Emirati athletes with determination and their able-bodied colleagues won silver and bronze medals in a double victory for the UAE’s unified table tennis couples teams.
The teams, which feature sportsmen with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), were presented with their medals after taking second and third place in the unified couples category on day two of the Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in Abu Dhabi.
All the athletes proudly dedicated their wins to the UAE’s leadership and thanked them for organizing the major international sporting event taking place in the capital. They are now looking forward to even greater success at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
Khaled Al Shahi, who has ID, won the silver medal with his able-bodied colleague, Nawaf Al Kaabi, while ID athlete Mohammed Almas was presented with bronze alongside his teammate, Yousef Al Kaabi.
Khaled said: “I am very proud that I took second place in this category and I dedicate this win to our UAE leaders. I am looking forward to getting the first place in the World Games 2019.”
His teammate, Nawaf, said: “Our participation in the Special Olympics Games has prepared us for the World Games happening in 2019.
“It is a good start for the Year of Zayed and we are very happy and proud to be part of such a great sporting event.”
Mohammed said he felt “happy and proud” at securing third place in is now looking forward to the World Games next year.
Yousef echoed his colleague’s joy at taking home a medal. “I am very happy that I am part of this amazing sporting event,” he said.
“I got third place in the couple category and I am looking forward to participating in the World Games and getting the first place.”
The UAE’s table tennis coach, Omar Ali, said the silver and bronze medals were a “great accomplishment for the UAE and Abu Dhabi”.
“Special Olympics Abu Dhabi is a preparation for the World Games 2019,” said Mr Ali: “I would like to thank the UAE’s leaders for their full support for people with determination.
“People with determination have given their all in the MENA games and I thank all the organizers for a brilliant job for making this event a success in all aspects.
“The UAE team will work even harder and prepare itself for the World Games 2019 and get the best results possible.”
Speaking after the UAE’s victory over Egypt, Emirati basketball player Talal Noufan Arekat said he was excited to be representing his country on the court.
“The Games have been the best experience ever. I’ve really enjoyed playing with my teammates against players from all over the world.
“The games have been tough. Our match against Egypt was very tight, but we won in the end.”
Talal, who trained with the UAE basketball squad at a camp in Al Ain before the start of the competition, said all of the teams taking part in the Games have shown high levels of skills.
“There have been some tough games. All of the teams are very good and have some good players,” he said. “We have performed well as a team and I even scored 22 points in a game so I’m very happy. I hope we can go all the way and win the gold.”
Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.
More than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries have 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 are taking 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.
Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world coming to the Emirati Capital, marking its first debut in the history of the MENA region.
H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, attended on Monday the Special Olympics IX MENA Games that are currently under way at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, ADNEC.
Sheikh Hamdan attended competitions of basketball, table tennis and volleyball, along with a number of other sporting events.
More than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries have travelled to Abu Dhabi to take part in these games from March 14-23, which is the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
سمو الشيخ حمدان بن محمد، ولي عهد #دبي يزور الألعاب الإقليمية التاسعة للأولمبياد الخاص والتي تقام في مركز أبوظبي الوطني للمعارض "أدنيك". هنا_لنشارك #أبوظبي_تستعد #الأولمبياد_الخاص H.H Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed @faz3, Crown Prince of #Dubai visits us at the Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018, which is held in @adnecgroup #SpecialOlympicsAD #AbuDhabiPrepares #HereToParticipate
Athletes will take part in 16 different sports that will be hosted at eight different venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club. Entry across all the sites is open to the public.
Sheikh Hamdan was accompanied by Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, along with a number of senior officials.
*Provided by WAM