Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; March 19, 2019: Day four of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 saw another strong performance by Saudi Arabia’s athletes, with Abdulaziz Alharthi winning the event’s first gold medal in swimming. Saudi Arabia won three gold, one silver, and three bronze medals on March 18.
Abdulaziz Alharthi, 17, from Jeddah, was thrilled to win gold in the men’s 25m freestyle swimming event. Earlier in the week, he won a silver medal as part of Saudi Arabia’s 4x100m freestyle relay team. “I was inspired by my teammates winning medals in the races before me,” he said.
Faisal Algosaibi and Faris Khouj, also part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team, each won bronze in their division of the 25m freestyle swimming.
The Saudi Arabian athletes also did exceptionally well in athletics events. Mohammed Alolayan won gold in the 5,000m run event, marking his second medal since he won a bronze in the triathlon event held on March 8.
Moayed Aldarwish won gold in the 400m run event. Moayed, 29, finds being at the World Games to be inspirational. “There are so many people here from all over the world, so many great athletes. Seeing everyone competing hard on the track is exciting, but it’s good that everyone is friends off the track too. We’re all the same: we all want to win and we want to make everyone proud.”
Heba Shawli also became multiple medal winner when she took bronze in the softball throw event. She previously won gold in the 25m run event on March 17.
Fares Almateq and Naif Alshammari won silver in the men’s doubles table tennis. This is Fares’ second win of the World Games, having won gold in the men’s singles table tennis event.
Other winners of multiple medals include Hassan Alhadhariti, who won three golds and one silver in powerlifting; Sara Felemban and Jana Albeshri, who both won silver in bocce women’s singles and women’s team events, and Shahad Sunbul, who won silver in the bocce women’s team event and bronze in the bocce women’s singles event.
As the largest team ever to represent Saudi Arabia at Special Olympics World Games, 50 athletes – 21 female and 29 male – participated across 10 sports throughout the event, including basketball, bocce, athletics, powerlifting, roller skating, swimming, triathlon, table tennis, bowling and unified sports. They were accompanied to Abu Dhabi by a delegation including representatives from Special Olympics Saudi Arabia Federation (SOSAF), coaches, and healthcare professionals, as well as their family and more than 200 volunteers from Saudi Arabia. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 has more than 7,500 athletes from 192 nations competing in 24 sports from March 14-21.
Following the World Games 2019, Saudi Arabia Special Olympics Federation will continue to support Special Olympics athletes through a comprehensive ecosystem of programs, including athletics and physical activity coaching, healthcare, and more.
Special Olympics Saudi Arabia aims to recognise the athletic capability of all members of Saudi society, providing a platform of enablement and support for athletes with intellectual disabilities. It is responsible for bringing the entire universe of Special Olympics to Saudi Arabia, including sports participation, equity, healthcare, social inclusion, and more, with the ambition of creating a stronger future for the Kingdom in which all members can proudly participate. Engage with Special Olympics Saudi Arabia team on Twitter and Instagram: @SaudiArabiaSO.