McNab hails Summer Games for unifying philosophy

Friday, March 22, 2019

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Aldrick “Allie” McNab, chairman of Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ), says the organisers' drive to highlight unified sports at the World Summer Games was not lost on him here in this Middle East country.

The Special Olympics Games, which started March 14, came to a close yesterday with many observers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sharing the view that another step has been taken down the road to greater awareness.

“These games in Abu Dhabi were heralded as the best unified sport to be ever assembled, and it has proven so,” McNab told the Jamaica Observer in reference to the unified sports programme — which brings people with disabilities and those without disabilities to compete against and alongside each other.

“I think one has to give credit to the organisers here in Abu Dhabi — it's been first-class. The treatment is right up there with the best that we've ever seen,” said McNab.

The late Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics movement, and hosted a summer camp for people with disabilities in 1962. Six years later, the first Special Olympics Games were held in the United States.

Her son Timothy Shriver is head of the international body, and has long ramped up calls for using unified sports to break social barriers, among others.

McNab, from the sidelines an active supporter of Jamaica's teams in the UAE, noted its manifestation at these Games.

“I think the main thing we need to take away is the happiness we see on the faces of our athletes. Yes, it's a competition and everybody wants to win, but we do know that Special Olympics is not about winning. It's about participation, it's about determination, it's about overcoming, and we have done that. The organisers have created that kind of atmosphere,” he said.

McNab continued: “The unbridled joy we see here, and the way people reach out to each other is quite refreshing to see. It's a lesson in humanity. Tim Shriver, who heads this organisation, continues to take it from strength to strength. Eunice Kennedy Shriver said segregation and separation have gone through the window, and we've seen that here.”

The SOJ chairman also credited Jamaica for capturing 33 medals in the UAE, bettering their haul at the previous Summer Games four years ago.

“In terms of Jamaica's performances, we're ahead of the 29 medals we won in California four years ago, so from that standpoint we've achieved what we wanted to do,” said McNab, an outstanding former national footballer.

— Sanjay Myers

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