The way people perceive the Middle East is being changed forever thanks to Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Families who have traveled to the UAE to be part of the World Games have expressed their delight at how warmly they have been welcomed by members of the UAE community, both on and off the field of play.
For many of the 7,500 athletes, 3,000 coaches, and their families and friends, the World Games represents their first visit to the region, and they have been quick to praise Sheikh Mohamed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, for hosting the global sporting and humanitarian event.
“I was surprised when I got to know that the World Games was scheduled to be held in the UAE,” said Tony Marques from Puerto Rico. “I would have never thought of this combination.”
Tony, whose 29-year-old daughter, Natalia, has won two silver medals in athletics – the 25 meter and 50 meter sprint – said he has been hugely impressed with the facilities, atmosphere and enthusiasm of everyone at the World Games.
“The atmosphere has been simply brilliant. This is exactly what our children need,” said Tony. “This has only been possible because Sheikh Mohamed has been very open and big hearted in welcoming our children.”
Speaking to World Games Abu Dhabi Special Correspondents, Brendyn Monsorate, Bilal Hafeez and Christopher Swaminathan, Tony explained his family’s long association with Special Olympics.
“Natalia has been a participant at Special Olympics since the age of 14 and has taken part in three Latin American Games. Abu Dhabi is her second World Games,” said the proud father.
“It has been great meeting other people with disabilities. It is the participation and opportunity that really matters, and this is what benefits the children. The World Games are a blessing.
“As a father I can say that we are special parents to special children,” added Tony.