Olympic athletes Michelle Kwan, a two-time Olympic medallist, five-time world champion and nine-time United States, US, figure skating champion, and Ibtihaj Muhammad, who is the first Muslim-American athlete to represent the US in a hijab and win bronze medal in fencing, met with the students, faculty and staff of NYU Abu Dhabi, NYUAD, and talked to a crowd of nearly 200 about diversity, perseverance, and inclusion in sports.
The athletes shared anecdotes from their time at the Olympics while highlighting the importance of perseverance and the feeling of being part of the Special Olympics family, as well as the role of sports in bringing communities and people together.
Al Bloom, NYUAD Vice Chancellor, and Carol Brandt, Associate Vice Chancellor of Global Education and Outreach and Vice Provost of NYUAD, highlighted NYUAD’s pride at being a host venue for the Special Olympics.
The UAE Special Olympics Team was in attendance and asked questions and engaged with the two Olympians, before the start of their participation at the Special Olympics MENA Games.
The Special Olympics IX MENA Games and World Games are part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021, which reflects its full integration of people of determination into the community, through sport. The Games will be the most unified event in history and will offer an inclusive experience for those with or without intellectual disabilities.
The Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 will start on Saturday and will host over 1,200 athletes from 31 countries, who will compete in 16 disciplines, and will be hosted at eight venues that include the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, the Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.
The event, which will run from 16th to 20th March, 2018, is being held ahead of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, which will be hosted for the first time in the UAE from 14th to 21st March, 2019, at the ADNEC, and will comprise over 7,000 athletes from more than 170 countries.
The UAE Team, which is the largest contingent at the Special Olympics, will carry the name, the "Determined Team."
© Copyright 2019 Emirates News Agency (WAM)