Star sprinter Ala El Furawi wins triple double on the final day of athletics

One of the surprise packages at this week’s Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi has been the Libyan track team.

While the larger squads of UAE, Oman and Bahrain have dominated the running events, the north African team have quietly gone about their business winning a flurry of medals including seven golds in a number of hotly contested divisions.

The team’s star runner, Usain Bolt-esque Ala El Furawi, took gold in his 100m and 200m races, while teammate Hazem Mousa won his 400m race.

The team brought their week to a triumphant end on Tuesday morning, taking gold in division 3 of the men’s 4x100m relay with a time of 50.89 seconds, securing El Furawi’s triple double in the process.

The team’s coach, Shaban Al Abrood, said his athletes had exceeded their goals. “We came to the games this week to participate. We weren’t sure if our level of ability would be as high as the other countries, but we wanted to be ready for the World Games in Abu Dhabi next year.

“It’s been a successful week. It was a good competition for us and I hope for an even better performance next year. This was the first Special Olympics for our athletes and they have exceeded their goals.”

In a team of strong sprinters, El Furawi is undeniably the star. His physique, running style and even his showmanship have undeniable similarities to the fastest man ever, Usain Bolt.

In winning his three gold medals, El Furawi also clocked the fastest 100m and 200m times of the week across all divisions — 12.46 seconds and 25.03 seconds respectively.

Speaking after his 200m race on Tuesday morning he said: “I feel very proud to have won the gold medal. My preparation was good and I feel ready now for next year’s World Games.”

After their performances this week, El Furawi and the entire men’s Libyan track team will now go into next year’s World Games in Abu Dhabi as one of the favourites.

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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.