“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”.
Greece welcomed over 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 167 countries to participate in the World Summer Games, the largest sporting event in the world this year. The Games were held in Athens where it all began over 3,000 years ago in this birthplace of logic, myths, democracy and art.
On the 18th June a 40 strong contingent set out from Gibraltar, the largest ever to travel to World Games. It was an excited and expectant group seen off by the Minister the Hon Edwin Reyes as it is the pinnacle of every athletes dream to participate at World Games. They set off for Chania in Crete where for four days prior to the Games they were hosted by the local people and were able to acclimatise, relax and soak up the sun. they enjoyed Greek cuisine and shared cultural experiences before setting off by ferry to Athens and the Opening Ceremony. This was a kaleidoscope of colour, spectacular fireworks and musical entertainment held in the historic Panathanakeion Stadium. “Let the Games begin”, is the declaration given at the end of the Ceremony, and begin they did, though obscured for a while behind the rioting which took place in Athens, but the Games went stoically on, the athletes proving themselves to be ‘warriors of peace and unity’.
Our athletes competed in six sports; Aquatics, Athletics, Bocce, Bowling, Equestrian and 7-a-sde Unified Football.
Aquatics; competitors were Sallyanne Mauro, Douglas Pitaluga and Francis Mauro. Francis won Silver for his 50mt breaststroke.
Athletics; racing to victory were Miguel Rubio who won Gold in his 200mt sprint, followed by Silver in his 100mt sprint .Virginia Wink won two Gold’s in her 200mt and 100mt sprints. Shane Martinez, first time at World Games won Bronze in his 200mt sprint. Tyrone Davis also competed.
Bocce; this was the first time Gibraltar participated in this sport at World Games and we were ably represented by Malcolm Miel and Aloha Finlayson. Malcolm won Gold in the men’s singles and together they won Bronze in the mixed doubles.
Bowling; the most popular sport in Special Olympics. Samyr Anakkar and Carlos Yeo won Bronze in the men’s doubles and Patrick Slater; first time at World Games won Silver. Jan Lopez also competed.
Equestrian; John Joshua Buttiegieg, first time competing in these events won Bronze in Working Trials and Silver in Dressage. Glen Wimbledon also competed.
7-a-side Unified Football; the team acquitted themselves well against teams from Germany, Pakistan, Romania, Finland and beaten by Egypt in the final to take Silver.
Taking part; Jensen Gilbert, Darren Vinent, Sam Hook, Jeremy Prescott, Nicholas Danino, Lee Guerreiro, Marvin Zammitt.
Unified Partners; James Danino, Hezron Perez, Keith Chiara, Christian Jefferies, Darren Robba.
An eighteen strong family members group travelled to support the team and proudly cheered them on waving the Gibraltar flag. Denis Lafferty, Group managing director Saccone and Speed with his wife Janet also travelled to lend support as did Joe Hernandez, CEO sports and Leisure Authority Gibraltar. Annie Risso was head of Delegation; “our athletes excelled themselves as always and it was a tremendous learning curve for the newcomers”. Coaches and Unified Partners declared it ‘a lifetime’s experience’.
To the delight of the weary travellers on the homecoming coach they were met at the frontier by a Royal Gibraltar Police escort and were led in a procession of honour to be reunited with their waiting families.
We are all proud of you. Well done everyone.