Pakistan achieved a remarkable sporting success at the Special Olympics World Games 2019 which recently concluded in Abu Dhabi. The success was a very sweet one, with athletes suffering intellectual disabilities competing in at least 10 different sporting disciplines for their country. These athletes, both men and women, won a remarkable total of 65 medals, including 19 gold medals, 27 silver medals and 19 bronze medals. The successes came in athletics, cycling, football, power-lifting, tennis and bocce among other sports. The achievement was a remarkable one given that over a 120 nations including the United States, Russia, China and a host of other sporting superpowers participated in the games at Abu Dhabi. The event was the largest in the history of the Special Olympics World Summer Games. The 92 athletes from Pakistan made their nation, their coaches, their families and their supporters proud, proving what can be attained by Pakistan in the sporting arena. The group received a well-deserved welcome back home as it arrived at Karachi’s Jinnah Airport on Friday night.
The athletes were sponsored, trained and coached by the independent Karachi-based organisation Special Olympics, which is not affiliated to any national sporting body. It has, however, performed invaluable service to sports in Pakistan by developing existing talent among intellectually impaired persons and bringing it forward in sports. Special Olympics makes it its mission to prepare athletes for year-round competition in a variety of sports. It is sponsored by various Pakistan-based commercial organisations. Since it was founded in 1989, and held the first national games in Karachi in 1991 with 75 athletes, it has expanded rapidly and now has 28,000 registered athletes. The skills these young men and women possess were visible at Abu Dhabi. The movement deserves to be taken forward so that it can continue to compete with countries around the world. There is clearly a demand for outlets where persons with intellectual disabilities can demonstrate their talent, gain confidence, achieve success and demonstrate to the world that Pakistan is committed to taking the best possible care of those who suffer from disabilities of any kind.