Team Bahamas beats China in preliminary match; games get underway today
The 15th Special Olympics World Summer Games officially gets underway this evening in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but The Bahamas had already made a breakthrough, taking down the most populous country in the world.
In a preliminary match in unified 7-a-side soccer inside the Zayed Sports City Complex, Team Bahamas defeated China, 1-0. The Bahamas’ 11-member team relied on its defense, and it came through for them, as they were able to hold China scoreless.
In the country’s second preliminary match, they fell to the Czech Republic, 3-0.
A total of 24 athletes will represent The Bahamas in five sporting disciplines at the biennial meet in Abu Dhabi, and this is the first time in the history of the games in which the country is competing in soccer.
Also in action for The Bahamas yesterday was the country’s sole swimmer, Colette Grant.
Grant won her 50 meters (m) breaststroke preliminary race at the Hamdan Sports Complex in 1:23.09. Later in the day, she came back to the pool and finished fourth in the 590m free in 55.55 seconds.
“The soccer guys went out there and they didn’t disappoint at all,” said Special Olympics Bahamas National Director Gilbert Williams. “Excitement is certainly in the air. When you look at our swimmer, she’s looking pretty good, but we have to remember that these are preliminary events, so it is just like a warm-up for these athletes. There is so much more to come,” added Williams.
The initial matches in bowling and bocce for The Bahamas will be played on Friday. The Bahamas will compete in athletics, starting Monday.
The bowling games will be inside the Zayed Sports City Complex, while bocce is set for the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and the athletics portion of the games will actually be held in Dubai, at the Police Officers Club Stadium.
A colorful opening ceremony, showcasing a celebration of humanity, is set for this evening starting at 5 p.m. inside the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
A stellar line-up of world-renowned musicians has been revealed for the opening ceremony, inclusive of Avril Lavigne, Paul Oakenfold and Hussain Al Jassmi among others.
More than 40,000 spectators are expected to gather inside the stadium this evening, and millions of television viewers are expected to tune in worldwide. Spectators will witness the largest number of nations to take part in a parade at a Special Olympics opening ceremony.
The Special Olympics World Games is a multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities in the tradition of the Special Olympics movement. About 7,000 athletes from 170 nations are taking part in the games this year.
The games can be streamed live through the world games app which is available on an iPhone by doing a search for “World Games Abu Dhabi”.
The closing ceremony is set for Thursday March 21 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, where the Special Olympics flag will be handed over from Abu Dhabi to Jämtland County, Sweden as the host of the 2021 Special Olympics World Games.