Small states step up for Special Olympics challenge

ABU DHABI, 13th March, 2019 (WAM) – With some 7,500 athletes from over 190 countries readying for the opening tomorrow, 14th March, of the Special Olympics Abu Dhabi 2019, much of the media focus is likely to be on the larger teams, some numbering in their hundreds. There will also, however, be sportsmen and sportswomen from some of the world’s smallest countries, stepping up for the Special Olympics challenge.

Of these, several are taking part under the banner of the 129-strong Team GB (Great Britain), including the Crown Dependencies of Jersey and the Isle of Man, as well the overseas territories of Gibraltar, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands,.

The Channel Island of Jersey, a first-time participant, is sending four athletes, two men, 22-year old Aaron Bonnar and 19-year old Matthew Kirkland, and two women, 23-year old Cailiegh Quail and 20-year old Jessica Vieira. All are active members of the Jersey Special Gymnastics Club, which operates under the aegis of the Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled, JSAD, and are taking part in the Artistic Gymnastics discipline.


“I am delighted that we have four outstanding young athletes from Jersey taking part in the Special Olympics,” Senator Steve Pallett, Jersey’s Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, told the Emirates News Agency, WAM.

“All have previously won medals at a British national level and their participation in the Great Britain team taking part in this global event represents an enormous achievement in their sporting careers.”

“Jersey already has an excellent relationship with the United Arab Emirates in terms of our finance industries and in other fields and I am proud that our athletes will now be helping to diversify further the links between our two countries,” Pallett added. “I wish them well.”

Other small countries are taking part, too. Among six small Pacific Island nations that have sent delegations, for example, is Nauru, which is sending seven athletes and three officials from its population of less than 14,000. Tiny San Marino, surrounded by Italy and with a population of around 33,000, is sending 4 athletes while Andorra, between Spain and France in the Pyrenees, with a population of around 77,000, is sending 20 athletes.

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