Delegation gearing up for start of World Summer Games

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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Having been exposed to local customs and culture in United Arab Emirates( UAE) during the host town programme, Jamaica's delegation is gearing up for the start of the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

“Everyone in the Jamaica camp is definitely ready for competitive action. The team has been preparing for the last three years for this competition and they are just eager to go,” the Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) assistant head of delegation Paula Pinnock told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“We are one of the larger contingents here, and I know these athletes are going to go out there to make themselves and Jamaica proud,” she added.

The 98-member delegation is the most Jamaica has ever sent to the World Games and the biggest from the Caribbean.

Yesterday, the Jamaicans left their host town programme location at Radisson Blu Hotel and Resort in Al Ain ahead of Thursday's opening ceremony at Zayed Sports City Stadium.

SOJ athletes and coaches are to be relocated in Abu Dhabi, except those in track and field and swimming — set for a base in Dubai.

Pinnock said the activities during the host town programme provided the right tonic for her and her compatriots.

“The experience since arriving in UAE, and in particular our host town in Al Ain, surpassed expectations. And what amazes me is the response from the athletes, especially the ones who have represented Jamaica at this level before. They are impressed, and that says a lot.

“We have been revived, not just by the Jamaicans living here, but by the hotel staff and management and Special Olympics International volunteers assigned to our group.

“For all of us this experience will forever impact us, and for many it will be life changing,” said the assistant head of delegation.

Aside from experiencing UAE hospitality, the delegation was feted by members of the Jamaica Middle East Diaspora at a reception on Friday.

Through sport activities and competition, the Special Olympics movement focuses on breaking down barriers that exclude people with intellectual disabilities from mainstream society.

Unified competition provides athletes with intellectual disabilities the chance to compete alongside and against those without disabilities.

The closing ceremony of the 2019 Abu Dhabi Games is to be held on March 21.

— Sanjay Myers

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