20 March 2018, Abu Dhabi: Charles Muir didn’t get into bowling for the thrill of victory or even for the chance to play in the Special Olympics – he got into the sport to make friends.

Tired of being left at home while his sister went out, Charles headed to his local bowling alley to forge his own friendships.

Charles soon found that his circle of close pals was growing as quickly as he could knock down pins with a speeding bowling ball.

“I started bowling a long time ago,” said Charles. “I was 18 years old and I did not have any friends.

“My sister would go out with her friends and I just sat at home doing nothing. I decided to make myself busy, so I started bowling.”

Now a key member of the Canadian bowling team taking part in the Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in Abu Dhabi, Charles is enjoying every minute of his time in the UAE capital with his teammates.

An accomplished all-round athlete, Charles regularly competes in hockey, basketball, football and baseball matches as well as bowling.

“Hockey is probably my favorite sport because I practice with my father and he used to take me with him when he was playing with his team,” he said.

Coached by Charles’ father, Frank, the Canadian team are enjoying being able to compete against athletes from all over the world.

Frank says the team have performed well in the first two days of the Games and are eager to play more games.

“The first day was good. We are still at the beginning of the competition, but we are looking forward to more games to come.”

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About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, scheduled for March 14-21, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world, with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing more than 170 countries. The World Games will be an unprecedented display of the spirit, joy, courage and skill that are hallmarks of Special Olympics movement. The largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East and North Africa, the World Games features 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in venues throughout Abu Dhabi. The spectacular opening ceremony on March 14 is expected to attract 45,000 spectators while being viewed by millions worldwide via global broadcast partners ESPN and Abu Dhabi Media.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 2019 World Games will be the most unified Special Olympics competition in history, with inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event. The Games are the most visible component of a planned series of initiatives by Abu Dhabi and the UAE to expand opportunity for people of determination (with intellectual disabilities), and to promote inclusion and understanding throughout the emirate, nation, and region. Plans for operation of the World Games include leaving a legacy of improved health, education, and inclusion that will benefit the UAE long after the event is over.