As the final countdown begins to the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, Special Olympics Gibraltar are currently gearing themselves up for the challenge with intense training in the 7 sports in which they will be competing.
The squad selected to represent the Rock has been announced and includes 19 local athletes with 13 coaches and officials.
The Games, which are billed as the largest sporting and humanitarian event in the World this year, will involve around 7,500 athletes from at least 170 nations, participating in 24 different sports. They take place from March 14th to the 21st in 16 World-Class venues throughout the United Arab Emirates. Four years ago at the last World Summer Games in Los Angeles the Gibraltar team brought home a haul of medals, which included their first ever medals in open water swimming and golf. A spokesperson for the SO Committee said they will be looking to do the same again this year.
The selected squad consists of:-
Athletics:- Francis Mauro , Daniella Vinent , Miguel Rubio, Mark Dos Santos, Gino Francis
Swimming:- Douglas Pitaluga and Sallyann Mauro
Open Water Swimming:- Adam Stewart and Darren Grech (unified partner)
Bocce:- Dorian Zammitt and Malcolm Miel
Golf:- Julian De Las Heras and Nicholas Payas
Bowling:- Shane Martinez , Samir Annakar, Marvin Zammitt, Derek Stefan Luise (unified partner)
Equestrian:- J.J. Buttigeig and Glen Wimbleton
Coaches:- Kellianne Peliza, James Danino (athletics), Keri Morgan (equestrian), Andrew Ramage, Albert Bruzon (golf), Ana Maria Golding (swimming) Mark Chichon (open water swimming), Paola Poggio (bocce), Graham Coles, Leslie Martinez (bowling).
Officials:- Annie Risso (Head of Delegation), Caine Sanchez (Assist. Head of Delegation), Sandra Netto (medic),
Along with the announcement of the team, SO Gibraltar has also launched their popular sponsor-an-athlete campaign, giving local businesses an opportunity to connect directly with the Games. Businesses can choose an individual athlete to support and follow in the competition whilst providing valuable financial assistance at the same time. There are a lot of costs associated with trips such as these and SO Gibraltar is appealing for funds. The campaign was kicked off by Bassadone Management Limited who have promised £1,500 to sponsor athlete Sallyann Mauro in the swimming event.
Many family members from Gibraltar have already committed to go to the Emirates to support our athletes. The team will be enjoying some acclimatisation and training in Dubai before the games start and hope to have some time to explore some of the local tourist attractions. As with all World Games there is expected to be very impressive and star-studded opening and closing ceremonies, which will be broadcast live around the World.