Best wishes to our Special Olympics delegation

Saturday, March 09, 2019

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Generally speaking, Special Olympics doesn't get the scale of press coverage as the event that is known as the modern Olympic Games. This newspaper, therefore, is proud to be among the media houses that give attention to the eight days of competition between children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.

It always warms our hearts to see the positive impact the Special Olympics has on the lives of not only the athletes, but the individuals who volunteer and the wider world in general. For implicit in the participation of these athletes in the Special Olympics is a fixity of purpose and a demonstration of achievement against the odds.

This year's event is scheduled for, March 14-21 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Jamaica's delegation of 98 — comprising 73 athletes, 22 coaches, two officials and a medical representative — left the island on Thursday, giving them enough time to recover from the long journey before the opening ceremony.

The delegation, we are told, will be based in the city of Al Ain for the host town programme that offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy local hospitality, customs and culture, and helps to spread awareness of intellectual disabilities while promoting the Special Olympics spirit.

That exchange of cultures and the opportunity to forge new friendships are just two of the many benefits of games such as these. In addition, engagement in competition, be it local or international, is always good for human development as it helps to build character.

As we understand it, the Jamaicans are set to compete in athletics, bocce, roller skating, swimming, unified badminton, unified basketball, unified football (men's and women's teams), and unified volleyball (men's and women's teams).

Last month we reported the coaches of two disciplines — athletics and badminton — as saying that the teams were doing well in training.

“You can feel the progress in the short space of time they are playing together,” badminton coach Ms Terry Walker said.

Mr Andre Johnstone, the track and field head coach, told journalists that preparation was in full swing and he expects very positive results.

“I really have great expectations; they have been training hard and they are really committed athletes,” he said.

We recall that at the 2015 Special Olympics Summer Games in Los Angeles, United States, Jamaica won 29 medals and were also a huge hit at respective Winter Games in South Korea in 2013 and in Austria two years ago.

The games in the UAE, we hope, will end with our Jamaican ambassadors doing even better, winning more medals and, even more important, making a greater contribution to the Special Olympics goal of breaking down barriers that exclude people with intellectual disabilities from mainstream society.

Our best wishes to the team and the other members of the delegation.


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