Nigeria’s Special Olympians shine in Abu Dhabi
Nigeria’s athletes at the just-concluded 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi won an amazing 63 medals to continue their heroics from the last edition in Los Angeles, reports CitySports.
They went, saw and conquered. That’s the story of Special Olympics Nigeria’s delegation to the just-ended 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Unlike the Olympic Games when the country’s athletes are celebrated before embarking on the trip for the global competition — and often return empty-handed — these set of athletes, the Special Olympians, made the trip to the United Arab Emirates unheralded, devoid of any fanfare.
Well, it’s not new to them, and as always, they showed the stuff they are made of, amassing an amazing 63 medals in the Middle East.
The Special Olympics is a global movement of people creating a new world of inclusion, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of their ability or disability.
It takes place every two years and alternates between summer and winter, with Nigeria competing in the last Summer Games in Los Angeles and the Winter Games in Austria.
Team Nigeria won 71 medals at the last event in Los Angeles. This time, competing in eight events out of 24 in Abu Dhabi, Team Nigeria claimed a total of 63 individual medals.
They won four gold and two bronze medals in athletics, two gold, seven silver and two bronze in badminton, 10 silver medals in Unified Basketball, one gold in cycling, 12 gold in Unified Football, three silver and one bronze in table tennis, one gold, one silver and five bronze in swimming, and 12 gold in Unified Volleyball, totalling 63 individual medals in eight sporting activities.
The Nigerian delegation at Abu Dhabi consisted of 46 athletes, 14 Unified Partners, including persons without intellectual disabilities, 23 officials, and a medical doctor.
The athletes competed in athletics, badminton, Unified Basketball, cycling, Unified Football, swimming, table tennis and Unified Volleyball.
At a reception held for them on Tuesday in Ikoyi, Lagos, the Special Olympics Nigeria celebrated the heroes and heroines for their amazing performances despite the odds they’ve had to face on home soil.
“I’m proud to announce that we returned home with 63 medals, 32 gold, 21 silver, and 10 bronze medals. These numbers may sound odd but in Special Olympics we celebrate individual athletes and not the event. Therefore, the medals are not counted as per sport but as per athletes.”
Unified Football gold medallist Chisom Umeh is still in ninth heaven after the hard-fought final victory over Iraq.
“It was a fantastic tournament, very tough and technical. We all celebrated wildly when we won because beating Iraq wasn’t an easy task. This medal will remain with me for the rest of my life,” he said.
However, winning came as a result of “the determination and the drive to succeed over the last four years,” says Misan