Romania was represented by a delegation of 50 people, adults and children, at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi (8-21 March 2019). Part of this delegation were also four young people coming from the alternative services run by Hope and Homes for Children Romania in Maramureș county. The four young people - Susana Varga, Alina Moldovan, Daniel Tănase and Ionuț Negrea – competed in the javelin throw, 100 m dash and 4x100 m relay disciplines, where they obtained excellent results, winning medals for the Romanian delagation.
This is the most important sports event dedicated to persons with intellectual disabilities in the world.
The first week in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was reserved for becoming familiar with the competition atmosphere, the host city, as well as with the culture and customs of the host country. The young people had a visiting schedule which included the Sheikh Zayed Mosque (the biggest mosque in UAE and one of the biggest in the world), Louvre Museum – Abu Dhabi, displaying artefacts, art pieces, old and contemporary paintings and the Qasr Al-Hosn fort, the oldest building in the UAE. Throughout the visit, teenagers were explained the importance of the places they were visiting and the way they contribute to the present image of the host country.
The second week was dedicated to competitions. The qualifications determined the groups for everyone and provided equal chances (groups with similar performance) to all competitors. The first discipline the young people took part in, the javelin throw, brought the first medals: gold for Susana Varga, bronze pentru Alina Moldovan and gold for Daniel Tănase. The next discipline, 100 m dash, also brought gold for the athletes from Baia Mare. Alina Moldovan won the silver (she came 0,3 seconds away from the gold medal and a foto-finish was needed), just like Daniel Tănase. The team came on the seventh place in the 4x100 m relay, as they met strong opponents inside their group.
The young people were very happy with their rankings, which reflect the hard work, the training and the motivation they’ve invested all along. They loved the competition and all competitors complied with the Special Olympics motto, Let me win, but if I can't win, let me be brave in the attempt. The delegation enjoyed the two weeks spent in the United Arab Emirates, both for the competition experience and the life experience, as the young people had the chance too see and experiment a lot of new things.