UAE athletes are gearing up for Invitational Games Malta 2022, the first international Special Olympics event in Europe since the beginning of the pandemic.
Twelve Emiratis will travel to take part in the games, which run from May 13 to May 18.
Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and activities for five million participants and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.
The UAE athletes will compete in aquatics, bowling and bocce alongside more than 1,000 athletes from Special Olympics organisations around the world.
Special Olympics UAE, the only national organisation from the Arab world represented in Malta 2022, will participate in bowling with a unified team, which includes two players from the UAE national bowling team, Reem Jamal and Abdullah Al Jaidi.
Malta 2022 is an invitational event where the most prominent and most active Special Olympics organisations around the world get the opportunity to participate.
Special Olympics UAE secured its participation because of the virtual sports and fitness programmes that were run throughout 2020 and 2021, and also its successful and safe return to in-person sports events at a national level since September 2021.
“Our preparations for Malta 2022 Games have been ongoing for some time and have culminated in a closed training camp for our 12 athletes, their coaches and technical staff," said Talal Al Hashemi, national director of Special Olympics UAE.
"There is a lot of excitement and anticipation, and to many of our athletes, this is very reminiscent of their experiences at the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
"We hope that they are equally successful in Malta, and importantly we want them to enjoy themselves, feel empowered and included. In many ways, this is how success looks like to us."
The six-day training camp included bowling training at the Khalifa International Bowling Centre in Zayed Sports City, swimming training at the Mohammed bin Zayed Sports City Centre - Water Sports Complex and bocce training was held at Abu Dhabi Club for People of Determination in Al Mafraq.
Malta's ambassador to the UAE, Maria Camilleri, visited the training camp at Zayed Sports City on May 10 and wished the athletes success.
The UAE’s team at the Malta 2022 games is sponsored by Aldar Properties, and the official transport partner is Integrated Transport Centre – Abu Dhabi.