For the first time, Jamaica will send three unified teams to the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi as part of the ongoing partnership between the Digicel Foundation and Special Olympics Jamaica to support our athletes on the world stage.
The teams will be part of a 98-athlete contingent representing the country from March 14-21, 2019. The concept of a unified team is a fast-growing initiative that brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together on the same team to compete against other teams. It is designed to enable athletes to learn new sports, refine their athletic skills, work more closely as a team, form new friendships and participate in activities outside of traditional Special Olympics events.
In embracing the concept, Executive Director of the SOJ, Lorna Bell explained, “This upcoming experience will offer a unique training and competitive experience for the athletes and, on top of training hard, we expect them to do even better because of the motivational boost that the unified concept brings to the team.”
Bell also disclosed that Jamaica will be the only Caribbean country to participate in the upcoming unified football competition to be held in Chicago in July of this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics.
“As a friend of the Special Needs community, we are once again very proud to help prepare another contingent of athletes to take on the rest of the world. This partnership has been going since 2004 and we have no doubt that they will once again represent our country and themselves well,” said Mrs. Jean Lowrie-Chin, Chairman of Digicel Foundation.
The 2019 Special Olympics will feature seven days of competition in 24 sporting activities such as badminton, basketball, beach volleyball and bocce. Other sports include athletics, cycling, kayaking, open water swimming, roller skating, sailing and triathlon. Judged competitions will include judo, artistic gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics. Rounding out the list of sports are bowling, football, golf and powerlifting.
Abu Dhabi is the first country in the Middle East - North Africa region to host a Special Olympics. SOJ has been participating in the Games since 1983.
Special Olympics is a global organisation that has been providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities since 1968. Those activities give them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship.