The medal count continued to grow for Team Bahamas at the 15th Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), as the soccer squad broke through, beating China for a third time — one preliminary match, a group stage match and finally in the medal round — to walk away with a hard-earned bronze medal.
The Bahamas defeated China, 1-0, in seven-a-side unified soccer match on Tuesday, on the strength of a goal from unified partner and team captain Donte Singh. After a defensive battle throughout, Singh scored in the second extra session to give The Bahamas the elusive team sport medal. It is the first medal in a team sport for The Bahamas at the Special Olympics World Games, and one of a few in the history of athletic competition at a global level for The Bahamas.
The unified soccer squad finished with a 2-2-1 win-loss-draw record in their five games inside the Zayed Sports City Complex in the UAE capital. They finished third in group play with four points after losing 2-1 to Mongolia on Monday. Matched up against China again, Team Bahamas came through for the bronze medal.
“They played a hard-fought bronze medal match, and with about a minute left in the second overtime session, young Donte Singh came through with the winning goal for us,” said Special Olympics Bahamas National Director Gilbert Williams from Abu Dhabi. “They were jumping around and are very excited. They were elated. We ended on a high note, coming away with a bronze medal, and they are very excited about that.”
The Bahamas now has 12 medals at the biennial meet — five gold, two silver and five bronze.
In another team outing on Tuesday, The Bahamas’ mixed doubles team of 27-year-old Latonya Moss and 15-year-old Stephen “Goliath” Russell in bocce, marched into the gold medal match. Moss and Russell, playing in the M10 category, won both of their matches, defeating Jordan, 10-2, and Canada, 7-6. They will play Canada in the gold medal match at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre today. Moss hails from Abaco and Russell is from Grand Bahama. The Bahamian duo will go into the gold medal match as the top-seeded team in their group, finishing with six points in group stage play.
Over at the Khalifa International Bowling Centre, The Bahamas’ mixed doubles squad of Anita Moncur, 50, and Bronson Aranha, 48, finished sixth in the D10 category of bowling doubles. They finished with a 709 total pinfall, ending The Bahamas’ competition in bowling at the games.
The Bahamas had similar results on the track. Competing at the Police Officers Club Stadium in Dubai, a trio of Bahamians just missed out on the medal stand.
Charleasa Bain, 20, was looking for her second medal of the games but had to settle for a fifth place finish in the F08 Final of the women’s 400 meters (m). She turned in a time of 1:12.20. The winning time was 1:08.17, ran by Naomi Axisa of Malta. Bain won a bronze medal in her 200m race earlier in the games.
After finishing sixth in his 200m race earlier in the meet, Tavares Cooper managed a fifth place finish in the shorter sprint. Cooper, 22, ran a time of 13.04 seconds in the M29 Final of the men’s 100m for fifth. The winning time was 11.82 seconds, turned in by Calvin Massenburg, of the United States.
The other Bahamian in the men’s 100m, running in the M36 final, 30-year-old Christopher Rolle, managed a sixth place finish, in 12.66 seconds. The winning time in that race was 11.32 seconds, ran by Mohammed Alrefai, of Saudi Arabia.
“We thought we would have gotten some more medals on the track today but it wasn’t to be,” said Williams. “When you look at Charleasa, normally the 400 meters is her best event, and we had high hopes for a medal there but it just wasn’t to be. We’re sure that all of the athletes gave it their all on the track and in the other events as well, and we’re satisfied with that.”
The Bahamas will compete in just three sporting disciplines today, ending their competition at the 15th Special Olympics World Summer Games. The bocce doubles team of Moss and Russell will go after the gold medal; Frank Knowles will compete in the M06 Final of the men’s 800m; and the men’s 4x400m relay team of Cooper, Rolle, Knowles and Deron Forbes will be in action. They will compete in the M03 Final.
“We’re expecting to increase our medal count and end the games on a high note,” said Williams. “Regardless of what happens, I am extremely proud of the entire delegation and the effort that was put in by the athletes and the coaches. We’ve had a very exciting run here at the Special Olympics World Summer Games and we look forward to a fantastic ending.”
The country is being represented by a 24-member team at the games, competing in five sporting disciplines — athletics, swimming, bowling, bocce and soccer.
The team returns home at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on British Airways this Friday at 3:30 p.m. Team officials are asking as many Bahamians as possible to come out to the airport this Friday to welcome the team home.
“We want Bahamians to give these outstanding young athletes the support that they deserve — give them the same warm welcome that all Bahamian athletic champions receive,” said Williams yesterday. “They worked hard and have experienced tremendous success. They deserve the same warm treatment that all Bahamian athletics receive when they return home.”
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 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.
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