What a way for Team Bahamas to end its time at the 15th Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE)!
In what has become one of The Bahamas’ signature athletic events over the years, the Special Olympics Bahamas team turned in a spirited performance on Wednesday and closed out the week-long games with a silver medal. The team of Deron Forbes, Tavaris Cooper, Frank Knowles and Christopher Rolle, in that order, ran a time of 4:08.73 to finish second behind Kenya in the M03 Final of the men’s 4×400 meters (m) relay.
Kenya won in 3:59.04, The Bahamas was a distant second and Lithuania was further back in third, in 4:25.48.
Knowles, the baby of the team at just 18, had just run the 800m earlier in the day.
Knowles actually crossed the finish line in first place in the M06 Final of the 800m, running 2:19.10, but was disqualified for a lane violation. Beaver Smith, of the Cayman Islands, was declared the winner, running 2:21.31. Nouman Riaz, of Pakistan, was second, running 2:21.36, and Mario Zajfrid, of Slovenia, won the bronze medal in 2:37.77.
The athletics portion of the games was held at the Police Officers Club Stadium in Dubai.
The only other athletes in action for The Bahamas on the final day of competition was the bocce mixed doubles team of 27-year-old Latonya Moss and 15-year-old Stephen “Goliath” Russell. The Bahamas couldn’t have asked for a better finish as the bocce duo went out there and won a gold medal in the M10 category over at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. The team of Moss and Russell finished with a 2-0-1 win-loss-draw record to secure the top spot in the M10 category with eight points. Canada was second and Malta won the bronze.
As a result, The Bahamas’ medal count jumped to 14 to close out the meet – six gold, three silver and five bronze.
The Bahamas’ seven-a-side unified soccer team won bronze the day before, defeating China 1-0 in extra time in the bronze medal match, but were awarded with their medals on Wednesday. The Bahamas finished with a 1-2-1 win-loss-draw record in regular round-robin play, and then defeated China in the bronze medal match. It is the first medal in a team sport for The Bahamas at the Special Olympics World Games, and one of a few in a team sport in the history of athletic competition at a global level for The Bahamas.
“It’s the highlight of my career. Being the initial soccer team from The Bahamas to take part in this competition, and knowing where those guys came from, I have nothing but gratitude for these kids knowing that they left it all on the field,” said Team Bahamas Head Coach John Wildgoose on Wednesday from Abu Dhabi. “Everyone did a fantastic job, from the athletes to the coaches, managers and the entire organizational team. We have nothing but pride in these young athletes.”
The Bahamas finished with gold medals from Caitlin Romer in the F04 Final of the women’s 200m, Frank Knowles and Deron Forbes in the men’s 400m (different divisions), Anita Moncur in the D08 category of women’s singles in bowling, Latonya Moss in the F26 Division of women’s singles in bocce, and the bocce mixed doubles team of Moss and Stephen “Goliath” Russell with eight points in the M10 Division. The three silver medals were won by Forbes in the M26 Final of the men’s 200m, Romer in the F04 Final of the women’s 100m, and the men’s 4x400m relay team in the M03 Final of that event. The Bahamas’ bronze medals were won by Charleasa Bain in the F14 Final of the women’s 200m, Colette Grant in the F10 Final of the women’s 50m free, Bronson Aranha in the D25 Division of men’s singles in bowling, Russell in the M02 Division in men’s singles in bocce, and from The Bahamas’ seven-a-side unified soccer team in their group.
The Bahamas also finished with two fourth place finishes, two fifth place finishes, three sixth place finishes and one seventh place finish.
The Bahamas was 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 on Tuesday. “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 took part in the games this year.
The closing ceremony is set for today 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.