The Special Olympics South African national team has done the country proud with a record haul of medals from the Special Olympics Summer World Games. Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) sponsored more than R1 million towards the costs for 30 athletes to compete in this global event, which featured 7 500 athletes from more than 190 countries, who assembled in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, from March 14 to 21.
Team South Africa, which comprised 71 athletes, earned 35 gold, 15 silver and 12 bronze medals – the highest tally of medals ever for our national squad. They competed in football, women’s futsal (five-a-side soccer), table tennis, equestrian sport, bocce, open-water swimming, athletics and golf.
“We are extremely proud of the South African national team and their superb achievements this year,” says Minesh Bhagaloo, Ford Motor Company’s communications manager for the Sub-Saharan Africa region. “It is a privilege to be associated with the Special Olympics and to have made it possible for these athletes to attend the games.
“That they managed to bring home a record number of medals is the icing on the cake for these athletes, along with the life-changing experiences they gained and friendships made along the way,” he adds.
According to Special Olympics South Africa, the Special Olympics World Games use sport as a catalyst to create opportunities for athletes to be defined by their abilities rather than their disabilities. In addition to sports competition, the 2019 World Games featured inspiring non-sports activities and programmes.
These included Unified Sports experiences, free Healthy Athletes screenings, a Global Youth Summit, and the Law Enforcement Torch Run.