The Bahamas has proven time and time again that it is arguably the best “pound for pound” nation for sports in the world, and as it relates to Special Olympics, that statement appears to be no different.
The Special Olympics Bahamas team at the 15th Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), got the weekend started with a bang, hauling in seven medals among their global peers. It is one of the biggest collection of medals at any one sporting event in a single weekend from The Bahamas, and it signifies once again that The Bahamas is a small but powerful nation in sports, even for the ‘Special Olympians’.
The Bahamas picked up two gold medals, one silver and four bronze in Abu Dhabi. However, it was a bittersweet experience as the team learnt on Sunday that Special Olympics Bahamas Financial Director Basil Ingraham passed away at home in The Bahamas.
“We celebrate our performances with mixed emotions as Special Olympics Bahamas mourns the passing of Basil Ingraham. May his soul rest in peace,” said Special Olympics Bahamas National Director Gilbert Williams in a brief message from Abu Dhabi.
As for the results from the games, the first gold medal came from Caitlin Romer in the women’s 200 meters (m). Competing in the F04 Final of the event, Romer proved that she was the class of the field. Despite being the youngest competitor in the field at just 14, she cruised to victory in 29.73 seconds. Adela Mizigarova, of Slovakia, won the silver medal in 31.11 seconds; and Malika Younas Masih, of Pakistan, claimed the bronze in 31.45 seconds. Romer will run in the 100m today.
The other gold medal for The Bahamas over the weekend came in women’s singles in bowling.
In the D08 category over at the Khalifa International Bowling Centre, Anita Moncur, the oldest member of Team Bahamas at 50-years-old, struck gold with a 366 total pinfall. Monica Moya, of Panama, finished second with a 358 total pinfall, and Miriana Pace, representing Malta, won the bronze with a total pinfall of 352. Moncur had a score of 113.50 in her preliminary match.
Moncur said afterwards that she was simply “awesome”, and after she got going, she just did what she had to do to come out on top. She will compete in doubles on Tuesday.
The Bahamas’ silver medal over the weekend came from Deron Forbes in the M26 Final of the men’s 200m. Forbes ran a time of 24.55 seconds to finish second behind Mohammed Alrefai, of Saudi Arabia. Alrefai won in 22.94 seconds, Forbes was second, and Oumar Sidibe, of Mali, finished third in 26.34 seconds. Forbes, 31, will compete in the 400m today.
The athletics portion of the meet is actually being held at the Police Officers Club Stadium in Dubai.
On Saturday, 31-year-old Colette Grant picked up the first medal for The Bahamas – a bronze. Competing in the F10 Final inside Hamdan Sports Complex, she swam her way to bronze in the women’s 50m free in 53.63 seconds. Bouazzaoui Amal, of Morocco, won the gold medal, in 51.21 seconds. Ana Figueroa, of Uruguay, won the silver medal in 51.76 seconds, and Grant claimed the bronze.
A day later, Grant came back in the pool and finished fourth in the women’s 50m breast. Competing in the F03 Final, she swam a time of 1:21.77 for the fourth place finish. Erna Veress, of Romania, won the gold medal with a swim of 1:16.20; Salma Ibrahim Anis, representing the host country of the UAE, finished second in 1:18.07; and Arndis Atladottir, of Iceland, claimed the bronze, in 1:19.65.
Grant, the sole swimmer for The Bahamas at the Special Olympics World Games, swam 55.55 seconds and 1:23.09 in her preliminary swims in the 50m free and 50m breast events respectively.
Also winning a bronze medal for The Bahamas was Charleasa Bain in the women’s 200m. Competing in a different division from Romer, in the F14 Final, Bain raced to a bronze in 30.14 seconds. Sukunya Charuswat, of Thailand, won the gold medal in 28.35 seconds; Laura Butler, of Australia, finished second in 29.91 seconds; and Bain settled for the bronze. Bain, 20, will be back on the track on Tuesday, competing in the 400m.
Back at the bowling alley, Bronson Aranha won bronze for The Bahamas in men’s singles. In his D25 category, Aranha finished with a total of 386 for the bronze. Kim Fong Mak, representing Macau, won the gold medal with a total pinfall of 493. Mattias Nilsson, of Sweden, won the silver medal with a total pinfall of 484, and 48-year-old Aranha won the bronze for The Bahamas. Aranha will compete in doubles on Tuesday.
The other bronze medal for The Bahamas came from 15-year-old Stephen Russell in men’s singles in bocce. In the M02 division at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Russell won one match and lost one in his two games played, and ended up with the bronze medal. Jeong Min Kwon, of South Korea, won the gold; Phong Le Kim, of Vietnam, won the silver medal; and Russell claimed the bronze. Russell will compete in doubles on Tuesday.
Finishing in fourth in men’s singles in bowling was Austin Green. Competing in the D21 category, Green, 21, had a total pinfall of 428 to finish fourth. Ka Po-Lee, of Hong Kong, won the gold medal with a total pinfall of 526; Ysz Fai-Yip, also of Hong Kong, finished second with a total pinfall of 462; and Abdulla Marsal, of Bahrain, won the bronze medal with a total pinfall of 459. Green will compete in unified doubles today.
Back at the track, Tavares Cooper finished sixth in the men’s 200m. In his M22 Final, 22-year-old Cooper crossed the finish line in 26.34 seconds for sixth. He will run in the 100m on Tuesday.
In the unified 7-a-side soccer competition inside the Zayed Sports City Complex, Team Bahamas defeated China again, but lost to Pakistan and drew against New Zealand. In preliminary competition, The Bahamas defeated China but lost to the Czech Republic. In regular round-robin play, they defeated China, 4-2, drew against New Zealand, 1-1, but lost to Pakistan 4-0. Pakistan scored all four goals in the first half. The Bahamas has four points in round-robin play. They will play Mongolia today in a key match in terms of moving on in the tournament.
“We just need to wake up,” said team captain Donte Singh from Abu Dhabi. “We fell asleep in the first half (against Pakistan) and that cost us. They took some long shots in and we weren’t pressing in the middle and that’s how they scored. In the second half, we got that confidence back. They didn’t score on us in the second half and we got confidence that we could hang with these guys. We believe that The Bahamas is the best team in this group. With our confidence level, and not too much cockiness, I think we will do just fine in our next game.”
The Bahamas competes in athletics, bowling, bocce and unified 7-a-side soccer today. The country is being represented by a 24-member team, competing in five sporting disciplines, at the biennial Special Olympics World Summer Games, in Abu Dhabi.
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.