Abu Dhabi welcomes the Special Olympic World Games on 14 March in Abu Dhabi and just on the heels of International Women's Day, the athletic organization announces that almost 40 per cent of the participants will in fact be women.
This year, taking place from 14 - 21 March, over 2,800 female athletes will take part in the Games, 412 of them from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and a whopping 154 of those ladies are coaches from region. Of those women, there are so many amazing stories to hear, like that of the 14 first-ever female Saudi athletes who are set to compete and the first female table tennis both regionally and at World Games level.
“These are the women who are going to inspire and change the world and I am looking forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them and showing the world that there are no ‘disabilities’ for athletes of determination – just sheer determination, talent and skill," Tala Al Ramahi, Chief Strategy Officer at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 said in a statement.
Get to know some of the amazing women you can expect to see crushing it at this year's Special Olympics World Games.
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Hamda al Hosani, Emirati sprinter
Competing this year on her home soil, the Emirati sprinter hopes that the games will encourage more UAE children and adults to join Special Olympics solely for the enjoyment of sport. “In the Middle East, people look at intellectual disabilities as a bad thing, but I want to change that negative perception. I’m a very active person; I don’t like sitting still. That’s why I love running. If I sit down for a long period of time I feel like my legs are hurting because I just want to run," she said in a statement. With a total of 16 Special Olympic medals awarded to her at previous Games, the 29-year-old athlere is definitely one to watch both on and off the track.
Khadija Zen Al Abdeen, Mauritanian table tennis player
Going for gold, Khadija is the first woman to compete in table tennis both regionally and at World Games level. She's also the first female Mauritania athlete ever to compete outside of the Northwest African country.
Josée Séguin, Canadian powerlifter
Deadlifting more than double her own bodyweight and bench-pressing over 62 kilograms, Josée is a fierce competitor at the Games. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and vision impairment, nothing has stopped Josée from proving herself as one of the growing number of female powerlifters competing in the Special Olympic World Games.
Press play for a conversation with Zahra Lari, The UAE's First Female Figure Skater.