Gov Games on Wednesday announced the number of registered teams that will face off in the first edition of the competition as 145.
The number is almost double the anticipated figure, which demonstrates the wide-reaching enthusiasm, excitement and anticipation for the initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council. In total, 82 men’s teams and 63 women’s teams have registered from 86 government entities.
Due to the substantial increase in anticipated participation, teams have been given additional time to prepare and train, and a new date for the Gov Games has been set for May 9 to May 12, 2018.
The world-first initiative aims to promote team spirit and collaboration among government employees, and participating teams have already shown their commitment to winning by pushing themselves both physically and mentally in the quest to build a strong sense of camaraderie, passion, and determination that will help them cope with the challenges ahead.
The Executive Council will continue to oversee the organisation of the Gov Games in partnership with the Dubai Sports Council and Meraas as the official sponsor.
— الألعاب الحكومية (@GovGames) April 1, 2018
An orientation day will be hosted next week to brief all participating teams on the rules of the games and competition logistics, as well as provide a sneak peek into what awaits them at the infamous Kite Beach in Dubai.
Day One of the four-day competition will host the qualifying round for the women’s teams who must tackle seven obstacles to make it to the final. Days Two and Three will host the qualifying rounds for the men’s teams who will have to navigate nine obstacles.
The six top performing men’s and women’s teams will compete in the final, which will see the teams take on one mega obstacle. The Gov Games course has been created and designed to the highest global standards taking into account health and safety regulations.
The winning men’s and women’s team will each be presented with a special Gov Games cup and a team prize of Dh1 million, to be distributed equally between the participants.
More details on the initiative are available on www.govgames.ae.
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained four-year-old completd a remarkable night for the Godolphin team, who enjoyed four winners on the highly lucrative World Cup card, all ridden by different jockeys, and all sporting the supposed second colours.
After wins for James Doyle on Jungle Cat, Oisin Murphy on Benbatl and William Buick on Hawkbill, Soumillon got his mount across from stall 10 to make the running and after setting what looked a very modest gallop, unleashed his charge on the turn into the straight.
Thunder Snow quickly put distance between himself and Bob Baffert’s favourite West Coast.
The American challenger had looked poised to attack rounding the home turn, but it was soon obvious Thunder Snow had far more in the locker and he powered clear to score readily.
West Coast just managed to hold on to the runner-up spot from stablemate Mubtaahij.
Bin Suroor was saddling his eighth World Cup winner.
Bin Suroor was understandably thrilled with Thunder Snow’s victory in a course-record time.
He said: “The horse is really brilliant. He’s a Group One winner in the past as a two-year-old and last year and now he’s come back to win a Group One again – the World Cup.
“I think the jockey did a brilliant job. Nobody has done that before.
“He got away from stall 10 and got him handy. He took off and never looked like coming back.”
Soumillon said: “I don’t know if it was Sheikh Mohammed’s daughter, but there was a little girl before the race who said to me ‘it’s a small track, so if you go in front you’re going to win it!’
“After that Saeed told me to try to get the best start possible and stay close to the pace. I never thought I would be able to make the running with that draw, but he jumped quite well and on the inside I saw nobody was trying to challenge me.
“West Coast let me go and when I arrived in the first corner my horse just pricked his ears and had a good blow.
“In the back straight I was really cantering. He’s a funny horse as he’s really talented, but sometimes when it’s in his head he doesn’t want to do something he doesn’t go.
“When he wants to go, he’s just amazing.”
He added: “I’m in heaven now, we will have a big party tonight!
“Winning this is like a dream come true. When I was a kid in jockey school I was looking and screaming when Cigar won.
“I was hoping one day I would have that chance.”
West Coast’s rider, Javier Castellano, made no excuses for the vanquished favourite.
He said: “I was in a perfect spot and I didn’t have any complaints at all.
“Turning for home I thought I might be able to get to the winner, but he just moved away and was very impressive.”
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.