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The UAE delegation, which will be headed to Berlin in June, consists of more than 150 Athletes and coaches involved in 20 sports. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Special Olympics UAE kicked off its Road to Berlin campaign as it launched its training camps to prepare for the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, which will be held from 17 to 25 June.

The UAE will be participating in 20 different sports, and the Special Olympics UAE delegation is one of the largest from the MENA Region, comprising 75 Athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities, 32 unified partners, 46 coaches, medics, and the administrative and technical staff.

The first of three major training camps kicked off last December in Al Ain. Additionally, Athletes participated in other unified activities taking place nationwide, including ADNOC Marathon, National Table Tennis Championship, the Roller-Skating National team trials, Mubadala World Tennis Championship, and the Asian Powerlifting Championship.

Inspiring example

Special Olympics UAE Athletes will compete in swimming, badminton, bowling, athletics, beach volleyball men’s team, volleyball women’s team, basketball, cycling, equestrian, and powerlifting.

Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE, said: “As we prepare for the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, we are confident that our Athletes can achieve many wins and medals. They will set an inspiring example as representatives of the UAE and will build on the legacy of our great success in the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.”

He added: “Before the start of the training camp in Al Ain in December, Athletes were practicing and preparing through many regional and international Special Olympics events, such as the Invitational Games Malta 2022 and the Special Olympics Austria National Games 2022. We are proud of our Athletes’ commitment which was evident during the training.”

As the Special Olympics UAE hosted the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, it aims to continue the momentum during the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 and to work with various national and international stakeholders to further inclusion in sports, health, education and community at large.

Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 was one of the largest global inclusion sport events, with the participation of more than 7,500 male and female Athletes from more than 190 countries.

Quality of life

As part of the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 legacy, UAE leaders announced 31 legislations, initiatives, and projects to better serve the needs and aspirations of People of Determination in sports, education, health, and culture and improve their overall quality of life.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic in the following year, Special Olympics UAE continued its efforts to launch virtual events and activities. As the pandemic receded, Special Olympics UAE organized several sports forums across the UAE to ensure the steady and safe return of Athletes to pitches.

Last year, Special Olympics UAE’s Athletes were able to achieve many international wins including 16 medals in the Invitational Games Malta 2022, 16 medals during their participation in the Special Olympics Austria National Games 2022, and second place for the women’s football team at the Unified Cup Detroit 2022.