It’s not everyday you see athletes in their 70s competing in a global sporting competition – that is until you meet Roland Foerster.
This week, Roland has been showing that age is just a number with the 77-year-old competing in the Level 2 Unified sailing competition at Special Olympics World Abu Dhabi 2019 as a Unified Partner.
A civil engineer by trade, his passion for sailing started way back in 1965 and the American has made huge waves on the waters.
“It was during my college years when I saw a sailing boat on the lake near my home and I said to myself that I have to try sailing,” said Roland, who resides in Texas. “It was that moment that I decided to get a sailing boat and I’ve been doing sailing ever since 1965. It’s an enjoyable sport that keeps me going.”
It was in 2004 that he was introduced to the Special Olympics program in USA and 12 months later, he was representing his country as a Unified Sports Partner.
His latest competition has seen him share his knowledge by guiding Special Olympics athlete Tyler Dodson, who is skippering their boat at Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club.
“It is hard for me to put it into words what it means to be part of Special Olympics World Games,” added Roland. “In short, it’s an exceptional experience of a lifetime and one that I will always remember.
“More importantly, I love training the athletes who keep on showing such courage every day. To give them an opportunity to learn sailing is a really special moment for me as people like Tyler has really progressed since taking up sailing have gained a lot by just being part of the Special Olympics program.”
Roland plans to keep on dedicating his time to the Special Olympics athletes and has even set his sights on competing in the 2023 World Games in Germany.
“I enjoy sailing at my age and have no intention of stopping until I physically cannot do it,” he said. “I hope to inspire the athletes and I wish to be part of the next World Games in 2023.
“My message for anyone who has not been involved in the Special Olympics program yet, is to get involved. It’s a fantastic organization where you can meet great people. Everyone is determined to give their best but more importantly, the enjoyment is there. I have never regretted this opportunity and I am sure no one else will after experiencing this fantastic journey.”