MENA, 4th March 2018: Four Special Olympics athletes from Egypt, and Saudi Arabia got the chance to participate in a triathlon-coaching clinic with elite triathletes, Omar Nour and Andrea Hewitt, at ITU this weekend.

Omar Barakat, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamed Morsy from Egypt, and Thamer Ahmed from Saudi Arabia all participated in the coaching clinic at the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit. The four athletes will return to the UAE next year to participate in Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

UAE-based Egyptian triathlete, Omar Nour, turned professional eight years ago for the 2010 ITU season and has raced on the ITU Olympic circuit ever since. Having scored Egypt’s first-ever ITU Olympic triathlon points, Nour has trained with the likes of world-renowned Coach, Neal Henderson, and his Apex Coaching Elite Squad (based in Boulder, Colorado) and Chris Tidey and his Hamilton Aquatics Squad (based in Dubai, UAE).

Omar Nour said: “Running a coaching clinic for these Special Olympic athletes was without a doubt the highlight of my weekend at the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi. Each one of them brought so much energy, enthusiasm, and personality to the session, it blew me away. I truly cannot wait to see these athletes again when they compete in the Special Olympic World Games Abu Dhabi next year. They’ve got real talent and I know they will do their countries proud.”

Kiwi triathlete, Andrea Hewitt’s first triathlon was in 2005 in New Zealand where she was crowned U23 World Champion. Since then, Andrea has had a number of significant placings and wins, most recently winning the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi and being crowned the winner of the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast. Andrea is ranked as number four in the ITU World Rankings.

The four athletes also took on 11-year-old Tia and 14-year-old Rio of Team Angel Wolf, Peter Wheeler, CEO of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and Gary Marescia, Race Director of the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi in the Special Olympics category at ITU on Friday. The competition included a 400m swim, 10km cycling race and a 2.5km run.

Abu Dhabi will be the first city ever to host both the MENA and World Games within a year of each another. Over 1,000 athletes of all abilities will descend upon Abu Dhabi from 14 to 22 March this year to take part in Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018. Athletes from 31 countries will participate in 16 sports, which will be hosted in eight different venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.

The IX MENA Games and World Games are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights the full integration of people with disabilities into society. The Games will be the most ‘unified’ in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics is unique to every other Olympic Games and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, athletes must have an intellectual disability; a cognitive delay, or a development disability, that is, functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills (they may also have a physical disability).

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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.