Special Olympics Gibraltar athlete Adam Stewart struck gold for the team on Day One of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi when, with unified partner Darren Grech, he finished first in the No Wet Suit category, 1 mile open water swim.
Adam clocked 29.13 minutes, beating competitors from Brazil, Costa Rica, Uruguay and the Cayman Islands. Under the coaching of Mark Chichon, Adam and Darren had been in training since last August. The victory marked the first medal for SO Gibraltar in these games and was a great start on the first day of competition.
Earlier in the day long distance runner Francis Mauro ran a personal best of 1 hour, 44 minutes and 29 seconds in the final of the half marathon event crashing his previous record by over 10 minutes. He was ranked in a higher division which led to him achieving a creditable 4th place. His training over the last 2 years really paid off and coach Kellianne Peliza said "Francis is a true inspiration for all with his hard work and dedication to the sport."
Elsewhere the early stages and divisioning in other competitions continued and there was a notable performance by Dorian Zammit on the bocce court, winning his first game 12 - 0 against Palestine and in a close finish drawing his second game 7 - 7 against Argentina.
On day two the medal count grew as Gibraltar athletes continued to shine against the best in the World.
Years of training in the sport of bocce paid off for Dorian Zammit who brought home the gold medal in the men's singles event. The pride felt by his parents, who are present in Abu Dhabi for the games, was compounded when his brother Marvin also then went on to win gold in the men's singles bowling event. Whilst different events, the skill shown by both brothers was evident. In bocce Malcolm Miel came 5th in his division of the men's singles, whilst Marvin's team mate Samyr Anakkar claimed a bronze in the men's singles bowling event. Shane Martinez came away with a 5th place ribbon, also in the men's singles bowling.
The medals just kept coming with more won by Gibraltar in the equestrian contest. J.J Buttigieg achieved not one but two silver medals in the same day, in the equitation jumping and English working trails events. Whilst teammate Glen Wimbledon picked up a bronze in the jumping event and a 5th place in the working trails.
The medal tally was completed late in the day when Miguel Rubio brought home a gold medal in athletics, in the 200m event.
The golfing event kicked off in earnest with Julian de las Heras winning his round in divisioning with a score of 53 against 59 and 64 for his Hong Kong and Spanish opponents. Nicholas Payas scored 56 in his skills competition divisioning which compared very favourably with the 53 he scored in the same round in Los Angeles four years ago.
Earlier in the day in athletics Mark Dos Santos competed in his first 1,500m event. In his contagious, cheerful spirit he reminded everyone of the true spirit of sportsmanship, a positive attitude that made his challenge achievable, crossing the finishing line with a cheering crowd. He came in 6th place but during his run he was the life of the stands, with the race being televised live in Dubai TV. He faces another challenge ahead with the 3,000m.
Monday was a quieter day for Team Gibraltar after the medal rush of the previous day. With fewer finals taking place the highlight of the day was a silver medal for the unified bowling team of Marvin Zammit and unified partner Stefan Luise, in the Men's bowling doubles competition. In a division of 6 teams they scored 814 to claim the runners up position and add to Marvin's gold medal in the singles competition from the previous day.
Earlier in the day runner Gino Francis came in 5th position in the 400m athletics event. Coach Kellianne Peliza said "never would Gino have imagined he would run in such a big competition. He completed his 400m lap in 1.38 mins."