One of the best collective performances in sports for The Bahamas during the year came from the Special Olympics Bahamas team at the 15th Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Bahamas’ 24-member team returned home with 14 total medals – six gold, three silver and five bronze. The Special Olympics World Games is a multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities in the tradition of the Special Olympics movement, and about 7,000 athletes from 170 nations took part in the games this year.
A couple of members of Team Bahamas were recognized for their performances, and really for the fantastic seasons they had for Special Olympics Bahamas, as they were named male and female athletes of the year with a disability at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s National Sports Awards at the Atlantis Resort on Friday.
Deron Forbes captured the male award and LaTonya Moss won the female award. They turned in special performances at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games.
Forbes won a gold medal in men’s 400 meters (m) and a silver medal in 200m. He was also a part of the gold medal winning men’s 4x400m relay squad. Moss won golds medal in bocce singles and doubles in Abu Dhabi.
“They were fantastic,” said Special Olympics Bahamas National Director Gilbert Williams. “It’s definitely a good feeling to be recognized, letting you know that the work that you would have put in and the success that you would have had did not go unnoticed. It’s a step in the right direction. We were nominated a couple other areas as well such as coach of the year and volunteer of the year, and to see some of those other awards roll away from us was unfortunate, but we’re pleased with way the year ended for us with Deron and LaTonya capturing those awards. Things died down a bit after the world games, and then the hurricane took up the news and that’s understandable, but we’re still here in Special Olympics Bahamas and it’s good to be recognized.”
Moss, in particular, is a resident of Treasure Cay, Abaco, and was in that community for the passing of Hurricane Dorian at the beginning of September. Williams said that they are just grateful that she survived the deadly storm that devastated the Northern Bahamas and has taken 69 lives up to the current count.
“She is a special lady. We didn’t hear from her until about two weeks after the storm passed because as you know the communication lines were down and there was no way to contact persons there but after we heard that she was okay, and we finally heard from her, there was huge relief,” said Williams. “We’re proud of what both of them were able to do this year. With Deron, he is the self-proclaimed ‘King of the 400m’. That’s his baby. He is a real talker and he goes out there and performs and backs up what he says he will do. He’s just a fantastic track athlete. He’s a decent swimmer and plays basketball as well, but track and field is really where he dominates. He hasn’t lost for about five or six years now. We’re looking forward to continued good performances from him.”
Special Olympics Bahamas will close out its 2019 calendar with the Special Olympics Bahamas Annual Basketball and Bocce Tournament. That event is set for Saturday December 7 at Stapledon School on Dolphin Drive, from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. A total of four teams are set to take part in the one-day tournament – host organization Special Olympics Bahamas, the special units from Anatol Rodgers Secondary High School, H.O. Nash Junior High School and Stapledon School. The event is free of charge to the general public and food and drinks will be on sale.
“Everyone is excited and looking forward to this event,” said Williams. “We’re closing the season out with this combined basketball and bocce event at Stapledon and we invite the general public to come out and be a part of this grand event. These teams will be competing among themselves. It’s a double elimination tournament and we expect to crown a winner. We’re hoping to get a good crowd to come out and support these athletes.”
That first week in December is also being recognized as Disability Awareness Week, and Williams said that they expect to get good support for the tournament from the disability community in the country. He’s looking for the tournament to end a successful year for Special Olympics Bahamas and trigger a resurgence in disability events in the country.