Mariam Al Zaabi finishes in first place in her division of 1,500 meter race at New York University Abu Dhabi

20 March 2018, Abu Dhabi, UAE long-distance runner Mariam Al Zaabi brought the crowd to their feet with a heart-warming and gold medal-winning effort in the 1,500-meter race at New York University Abu Dhabi.

Day two of the Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018 got off to a fantastic start at the NYUAD campus on Saadiyat Island with the Emirati long-distance athlete sealing first place in her race.

The 1,500-meter runner paced her way around the track to take the gold, waving her arms to the cheering crowd and soaking up the applause.

Speaking after her run, Mariam said: “I am very happy and not even tired. I was so excited with the crowd cheering me on from the stands.

“I'm training all the time with my coach who helps me to get faster. Hopefully I can win more medals at the World Games next year.”

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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.