GANGNEUNG, Republic of Korea — It was third time lucky for Jamaica’s Special Olympians as they finally overcame the Hungarian juggernaut in a dramatic 4-2 win here yesterday in the floor hockey match at the Gangneung Sports Centre.
Captain Sydney Manyan scored a double, while Omar Brown and Craig Nelson got the other goals for Jamaica, who had already lost twice to the previously unbeaten Hungary team at these Pyeongchang 2013 Winter Games.
Riding on that crest, Jamaica played considerably below their best, but still managed a comfortable 4-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the afternoon fixture.
Rayan Farquharson was on the scoresheet twice, while Andrew Hinds and Andre Folks notched the other goals for the Jamaicans in a win that mirrored the final scoreline they had over their Caribbean rivals the day before.
Head coach of the floor hockey team Yolanda Reid was openly elated with the victories.
“I thank God for winning (those games),” she told the Jamaica Observer. “I feel great we beat Hungary, because we planned for it and played hard for it… we knew it was coming. As soon as the guys got settled, I knew they would pull out their best.
“It was also important to beat Trinidad. We built up the strength in our defence, and I’m pleased we scored the four goals in both matches,” she added.
Defender Omar Brown, who sat out the Trinidad & Tobago game, due to a slight ankle injury suffered against Hungary, undoubtedly felt the performance in the day’s opener was the Jamaicans’ finest of the competition so far.
“Today (yesterday) the guys came out and played their ‘A’ game against Hungary. I think we surprised them with the 4-2 victory, and it was good for us. We played really hard and passed around the puck really well,” he said.
As Jamaica intensify their march for a gold medal repeat of 2009, Reid urged her players to remain focused on replicating those high standards for the rest of the tournament.
“I think we are sending our message that we are heading for gold. We want to perform in a similar way, or even better, come tomorrow (today) and for the remainder of our time here,” she said.
Jamaica will today challenge both T&T and Hungary yet again, as the teams continue in the Special Olympics’ uniquely arranged play-off battles for a place in the gold medal match.
In Special Olympics floor hockey, countries of similar strength and ability are placed in one division with the aim of giving each team a good chance of beating the other. The division consisting of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Hungary is the toughest at these games.
At the January 29 to February 5 Games, Jamaica are also competing in ice figureskating for the first in their history.
The skating duo of Tamra Mitchell and Nigel Davis, who were in action on Thursday and were down to compete again yesterday until last-minute changes by organisers, are slated to dance on the ice rink at the Yongpyong Dome today.
The two gave solid, if not outstanding performances, in the individual and team events in their first outing at the Gangneung Ice Rink.
The Special Olympic Games provides the opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities, such as Down’s Syndrome, autism and celebral palsy, to display their skills and capabilities on the world stage.