2023 was another very busy year for Special Olympics Gibraltar. The first half of the year was dominated by preparation, fund raising and training for the World Summer Games in Berlin in June but in addition the year was filled with other activities including:-
March – SNAG Cake Sale at the Piazza – organised by the Special Needs Action Group for World Autism Awareness Week, raising awareness and funds for SOG. This was a special cake sale which included produce from St Bernadettes and cakes made by SOG supported employees at the SOG Sports Complex Cafe whose staff have, throughout the year, been teaching and helping some of our athletes there to learn some cookery skills and produce some very tasty dishes. Thanks Moncho and Ismael!
May – GBC Radio Interview – Special Olympics Chief Executive Annie Risso, Assistant head of Delegation for Berlin, Michael Mauro and golfer Julian de Las Heras received some great publicity for SOG with a very well received lunchtime interview on GBC .
May – Visit of the Governor to SOG Sports Complex – Special Olympics Gibraltar Executive Committee were honoured by the visit of HE The Governor of Gibraltar Sir David Steel, to their Special Olympics Gibraltar Sports Complex. He was Greeted by Chairman Dennis Lafferty and President/CEO Annie Risso. What followed was a half hour round table chat with the committee where Sir David had an opportunity to learn and discuss everyone’s role and Mission in SOG. He later proceeded to meet with Managing Director of SOGSC Francis Mauro and staff who proudly showed him round the premises with the committee, and he also had an opportunity to chat with athletes and Gibraltar College students that were playing Floorball. His genuine interest in everyone and everything delighted everyone.
May – FC Hound Dogs Charity Tournament – European Football Week in May saw this charity event kindly organised by Hound Dogs FC. This included a Full day of matches which not only gave our team extra training but also raised well needed funds for SOG and Hound Dogs FC.
June – World Cycle Day – SOG cyclist Francis Mauro jnr took part in the World Cycle Day accompanied by his coach Francis Mauro snr, his father, and his brother in law and sponsor Keith Chichon. Francis jnr raised £1300 plus a further £100 from coronation lodge in his fundraising Cycling challenge, which saw him cycle from Ronda, Spain to Gibraltar.
June – Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin – The squad set off on June 12th for Munich where they had time to acclimatise which included meeting the local Mayors, being invited to a beer garden
(non alcoholic of course!), a ride in horse drawn carts and visiting a cinema studio. The athletes had time to learn about the culture in Bavaria and also to bond as a team, before moving on to Berlin itself for the competition.
After a fantastic opening ceremony the Games began in earnest, and the medals started coming. After a long build up working hard on their training the team were well prepared for the challenges of international competition against 190 other countries. That training proved fruitful with the eventual medal haul being 5 golds, 7 silvers and 3 bronze medals. A very happy but weary team arrived back on the Rock on the 26th June to a great reception from all the families and supporters. See the Government video produced by Wright Tech Media about the Games, and launched at a special event organised by the Ministry for Equality, here:- https://www.facebook.com/gibraltargovernment/videos/326463036621826
July – Mayors Parlour Reception – Following their huge success at the World Games in Berlin, Germany, Her Worship the Mayor, Ms Carmen Gomez GMD hosted a reception for the Gibraltar Special Olympics Team at the Mayor’s Parlour, City Hall. In the presence of the Minister for Equality, The Hon Samantha Sacramento MP and Special Olympics National Director Ms Annie Risso MBE, the athletes and their coaches were congratulated by Her Worship for their hard work and fantastic results.
October – Halloween Party – For the first time, a great initiative by SOG Family Coordinator Yvonne Mauro who, supported by her family, organised a Halloween party in the SOG Sports Complex. It was well attended and the ages of our athletes were quite varied but they had such great fun.