Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 DAY 2: The Highlights

Every day we bring you the joy, elation and the human connection from the day’s events at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019

March 18, 2019
March 18, 2019

DAY 2: The highlights

Every day we bring you the joy, elation and the human connection from the day’s events at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019


The Special Olympics movement is all about inclusion and making a connection with fellow members of the human race and treating them as equals. Every day during the games we will start with a unified moment of the day - one moment that for us signifies that connection.

On day 2 that was…

A flashmob - Special Olympics style

In marketing circles, the flashmob has become something of a tired concept. Where once it was genuine and seemingly spontaneous (though heavily choreographed) happening, now they are telegraphed and predictable, trotted out in an attempt to ‘go viral’. However, when you have a DJ spinning pumping tunes in ADNEC’s main thoroughfare; the result is a spontaneous and unabashed display of joy as passing athletes get their groove on – a real, unplanned mini-flash mob. We watched on with broad smiles on our faces as at least five athletes were showing off their moves and a large assembled crowd clapped along!

Day 2 highlights

Bowled over with joy

Every time the team members from Oman and Panama step up to bowl at Zayed Sports City Bowling Center it is as much a performance for the crowd as it is an attempt to knock down the pins. Jonathan David Maduro – or ‘Superman’ as the crowd affectionately chant from Panama - puts so much passion and fury into his bowls that the crowd can’t help but get behind him. He spins, he twirls and he punches the air as he finished up his last bowl with a spare – Panama had won against Oman in a gold medal-winning team performance and a total of 1498 points.

Elated is not the word as still on a high from his victory, 'Superman' took the post-game interview opportunity with this blog to thank Special Olympics for how it has helped him in his life and send a message home to his girlfriend back in Panama.

“I am so happy!” Jonathan said. “I compete in swimming and bowling, I have been in Special Olympics since I was a kid. I love it when the crowd goes wild! And the crowd love him, they call me Superman!”

“I want to say something about my girlfriend,” says Jonathan, grabbing the microphone. “I love you very much and I can’t wait to see you again. You are coming to Abu Dhabi to watch me win and I will marry you!”

Braving the waves

Thirty-nine sailing teams from fourteen countries push off the docks or the sandy Corniche Beach at the Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club as the intricate process of divisioning continues. Clear skies with unpredictable winds at 22 km/h helped to create a great day for competitive sailing. There were times when the wind was on the athletes' side and there were edge-of-the-seat moments when the wind saw the boats topple sideways. Fortunately, the small light crafts are fitted with a flotation device at the top of the mast to ensure that they do not fully capsize and allowing the athlete to right their vessel with little to no help.

In tricky weather athletes can find that they go from first place to last very quickly, making it an emotional roller-coaster spectacle for both competitors and spectators alike. The unpredictability of the weather and the volatility of the leaderboard means it is likely the sailing competition at the World Games may go right down to the last few races.

Salama Al Mansoori, 17, Ahmeh AlHammadi, 18, and Mark Wayne Meerburg, 27, representing Special Olympics UAE got off to a speedy start, sailing in the Unified Division.

To help you enjoy the racing it is worth noting that there are various levels established by divisioning to ensure a level playing field. At level 1, athletes take care of the mainsail and jib trim. Level 2 consists of one athlete steering the boat and a partner managing the sails. In level 3, the coach is allowed to talk athletes through the processes but cannot participate. At Level 4 the two athletes are sailing by themselves and in Level 5 one athlete is sailing single-handed.

While it is likely sailing will face some delays as high winds are predicted for the next few days it is a lovely way to spend a day down on the Corniche and see the athletes in action.

UAE’s winning streak continues…

The UAE 11-aside football continues to be one of the most spectated events at the Games but that did not put the Jamaican team off, nor their fans, who at half time matched the host fans cheer for cheer as the MC spurred them on.

However, Jamaica were down 2-0 at the half time whistle but they came out looking for a goal with a few early chances but star it was striker Abdullah Peerak who put paid to any momentum their opponents had gained with a decisive head home less than 10 minutes into the second half. The UAE fans then found their voice with chants of Oh li la echoing around the Zayed Sports City pitch. It worked because it wasn’t long before 23-year-old Peerak scored again to seal their fate after a long build-up move and solid attacking. The final score - 4-0 UAE.