ABUDHABI, After countless displays of heroics, sporting excellence and incredible achievements by individual athletes and teams, the Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 came on Tuesday to its thrilling, fun-packed end.
The last day of competition saw two divisional men’s basketball finals, with the UAE facing off against the KSA and Egypt taking to the court to play Chinese Taipei.
Each of the four teams, which were made up of athletes with determination alongside able-bodied colleagues, gave their all in two exciting and end to end games.
In a free-flowing match, the UAE and KSA players pushed each other to the limit until the final quarter when Saudi eventually outscored their Emirati hosts to win by 43 points to the UAE’s 33.
Saudi player Mohammad Mousa said, “We were thrilled to have made it to the final but to beat the UAE, which were one of the strongest teams in the competition, is something special. It was not an easy game as the UAE have great players,” he said.
In the other final game, Egypt and Chinese Taipei matched each other basket for basket until the last seconds when the Asian team secured a narrow victory of 51 points to Egypt’s 49.
While the players performed heroics on the court, the crowds did their part to make the final day extra special with the stands packed full of spectators who sang songs of encouragement for both teams.
Emirati basketball player Mariam Al Mazouri played in the day’s women’s tournament. She described competing in the Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in her home city of Abu Dhabi as, “like playing in my own home”.
“Personally, I think I have played OK. There were games when I scored points and there were games where I could have scored more, but overall it has been wonderful,” she added.
Mohammad Al Hajjar, who played for Syria’s basketball team, said, “I was really happy to be able to represent my country at the Special Olympics MENA games. This is my second Games and I’m really happy that we achieved some great wins.
In the finals of the powerlifting, Libya’s Ammar Al-Shatshat took home the gold after lifting a combined weight of 507.5kg in division M6 of the bench, deadlift and squat.
Emirati athletes Ahmed Al Honsani and Hamad Al Ali won 4th and 5th place respectively in division M6, with Ahmed lifting a total of 365kg and Hamad 330kg.
In the women’s competition division F3, Libya’s Monia Ezawi won gold for a combined lift in the bench, deadlift and squat of 262.5kg with Hanan Al Shehyari from the UAE winning silver for a total lift of 140kg. Her compatriot Roodha Al-Ahbabi won bronze with a 110kg combined lift.
Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.
More than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries have travelled to Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games, which is the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes are taking part in 16 sports across eight venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world coming to the Emirati Capital, marking its first debut in the history of the MENA region.
Source: Emirates News Agency