British Embassy welcomes Special Olympics Great Britain team

ABU DHABI, 13th March, 2019 (WAM) –The British Embassy in the UAE today welcomed its athletes and the wider delegation from Special Olympics Great Britain to a BBQ garden party at the Embassy as they prepare for their participation in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games opening tomorrow.

Special Olympics Great Britain arrived in Abu Dhabi this week with a 129-strong delegation. Today’s celebration at the Embassy, also attended by delegations from the Crown Dependencies of Jersey and the Isle of Man, as well as the overseas territories of Gibraltar, Bermuda and the Cayman islands, as well as UAE-UK alumni, was held in their honour as they prepare to compete in Abu Dhabi over the coming days. As well as food and lots of jubilant supporters, there were a number of sporting activities for everyone to try at the event, all run by Sport Hero Academy, a UAE-based charity bringing sports to kids with special needs.

“Our athletes are very high-spirited and all of them became best friends within minutes of meeting,” Magalie Mackay, the coach for the women’s rhythmic gymnastics team, told the Emirates News Agency, WAM. “They are also undoubtedly the best singers!”

Four of the athletes in the rhythmic gymnastics team took part in the last Special Olympics in Shanghai, but two are making their first appearance, Mackay said. “The girls hope to take home some medals,” she added.

Today’s event was the latest in a series of activities by the British Embassy and British Council to celebrate and support the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Last year they hosted a delegation of British Special Olympics athletes whose programme included awareness-raising talks at schools and to businesses and a gala dinner at the Embassy to raise money for Special Olympics GB. Since then, the British Council has partnered with Special Olympics UAE to run training sessions by UK charity Youth Sport Trust for teachers and students from the Special Olympics UAE’s Unified Champion Schools Programme. This Programme is part of the UAE’s wider ambitions to create a more tolerant and inclusive society in the country through the power of sport.

This week, the Embassy and British Council will be sending a large group of volunteers and spectators to support the running of the World Games and cheer on all of the athletes. The British Ambassador, Patrick Moody, will be joining Lord Sebastian Coe in leading out the British team at the opening ceremony. Speaking during today’s event, Moody said: “We were delighted to be able to welcome these athletes to the Embassy today, not only to wish them luck in the World Games but also to express our pride in them and their achievements which are truly remarkable. And we express our thanks to our partners in the British Council, Caretech and Rolls Royce for supporting today’s event.”

“You should be so proud of being here,” Moody told the athletes. “You are world-class athletes because you have shown commitment and determination and have been the best that you can be.”

“Inclusivity is a value that we in Britain share with the UAE,” Moody said. “We will do everything we can to support the commendable effort of the UAE government to make the World Games, and their legacy, a success. I hope we see the large British community in the UAE attending the events and cheering on the British team and all of these incredibly talented athletes.”

“The Special Olympics,” Moody added, “is a significant event in the region. It highlights the UAE’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, and will also showcase the UAE’s own diversity, with many of the 200 nationalities who call the UAE home volunteering at events and watching as spectators.”

Gavin Anderson, Director of the British Council UAE, added: “The British Council is very proud to be working in partnership with Special Olympics UAE to raise awareness and advocate for a more inclusive culture of sports participation across the UAE. Working directly with teachers in UAE schools will help create a mindset that champions the idea that inclusivity through sport benefits all. This will be a fitting tribute and legacy of the Special Olympics World Games”



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