A record number - 64 medals, including 30 gold, were brought to the country by athletes with intellectual disabilities on Friday. This year's World Summer Special Olympics Games attracted as many as 7.5 thousand participants, over 2,500 trainers, 6,000 family members and around 20,000 volunteers from 190 countries. This is the most popular and the biggest sport event organized in the Middle East so far. The event was watched by millions of television viewers around the world, and 80,000 viewers saw the opening ceremony live. The stadium was filled to the brim with stars such as Avril Lavigne, vocalist OneRepublic Ryan Tedder and Luis Fonsi (author of the iconic hit Despacito) performed on the stage. Our representatives competed in Abu Dhabi in 17 sport disciplines: football, basketball, swimming, athletics, badminton, bowling, cycling, table tennis, powerlifting, tennis, judo, golf, roller-skating, kayaking, gymnastics, horse riding and gymnastics . It is amazing that in all of the disciplines mentioned here they managed to stand on the podium, in some cases repeatedly. It is worth mentioning that Poland is the first country in Central and Eastern Europe in which the Special Olympics movement began its activity in the early eighties.
"Polish sportsmen with intellectual disabilities are proud to return to the country. From the Olympics in Abu Dhabi they return to their places, where they will be living examples of the will and determination to overcome all difficulties, achieve successes and reach for dreams. Our athletes, struggling with all the emotions accompanying sports competition - they know the joy of victory, but also the bitterness of failure. Like everyone, they sometimes struggle with fatigue or pain. Their medals are a great souvenir and symbol of the fact that every day at trainings and competitions thousands of Special Olympics players across Poland break the barriers to achieve success. They prove to themselves and all around that they are an important part of our society", said Joanna Styczeń-Lasocka, General Director of Special Olympics Poland.
The Olympics were not only a spectacle full of sports emotions, but above all a sure message for the public. Athletes with intellectual disabilities proved to the entire world that their detachment, talent and will to fight is extremely necessary and deserves recognition and respect. Congratulations to our athletes and look forward to the next Olympics, which will take place in Sweden in two years!