Athletics: Mixing with the stars

Abeer Anwar , Thursday 22 Nov 2018

Athletes of Special Olympics Egypt started training camp by greeting famous football players

Mixing with the stars
Egyptian Special Olympics athletes

Special Olympics athletes who will represent Egypt in the World Summer Games to take place in Abu Dhabi in March next year made a lot of new friends when they opened their training camp at a Nasr City hotel.

The mentally disabled athletes had loads of fun mingling with Egypt’s football stars Ahmed Hossam, better known as Mido, Omar Gabr and Tamer Bagato. The gathering included national team stars from other sports, including Yehia Al-Deraa of Egypt’s handball team, swimmer Reem Al-Qassem, Samia Hagras of synchronised swimming, gymnast Jessie Al-Deeb and Omar Hegazi, Egypt’s famous adventurer. Actors and journalists were also there.

“It is a day to remember,” Bassem Al-Tohami, Special Olympics Egypt’s national director, said.

They all gathered under the hashtag #we are cheering Special Olympics Egypt athletes. The guests spent the day with the 101-member Egyptian delegation, 77 of whom are athletes. The players will participate in 14 out of the 24 sports in the games: football, women’s basketball, tennis, badminton, table tennis, weightlifting, cycling, equestrian, gymnastics, bocce, swimming, bowling, track and field and roller skating.

“I am very happy today to be among those lovely stars who I love and who I never imagined that I will meet one day,” equestrian Mariam Azab said excitedly. “They are all coming to cheer us. I promise I will do my best to be able to win a medal and celebrate with them again when we come back victorious. I thank Special Olympics Egypt and the whole movement for giving me the chance to be known and cheered on by all and play the sport I love the most.”

Abu Dhabi will host the World Games from 14-22 March 2019. The UAE’s capital is expected to stage the most unified Special Olympics World Games in the history of the Special Olympics.

With its diverse population and a tradition of warm hospitality, the people of Abu Dhabi demonstrate every day the spirit at the heart of the Special Olympics: respect and inclusion for people from all walks of life and abilities.

Abu Dhabi enjoys a globally-central location, with modern facilities and infrastructure making it ideal to host the World Games. Abu Dhabi aims to be the most unified host for the most unified games ever held, with more than 170 participating countries in the World Games. Also, it will be unified in the way it is run and organised. People with intellectual disabilities will be involved in all facets of the games, providing every spectator, guest and fan an inclusive and transformational experience with Special Olympics athletes.

The games are considered more than a world-class sporting event. They are a catalyst to improve lives, to reach a full collective potential, and to create greater social inclusion for people with and without intellectual disabilities in the UAE, in the region and globally.

The UAE will come together to welcome the world to Abu Dhabi for the Special Olympics, and the clear ambition will be for these games to redefine the Special Olympics World Games for future generations. Around 7,000 participants representing 170 nations are to be hosted by Abu Dhabi which will make the UAE the first nation in the Middle East and Africa region to host such an event.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to five million athletes and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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