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Special Olympics athletes head to 2019 World Games

A group of Special Olympics athletes will depart for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi this week. Held from 14-21 March, the World Games will be the biggest sports and humanitarian event staged anywhere in the world in 2019.

More than 7000 athletes from 170 countries will compete in a series of sports. This is the first time the event has been held in the Middle East North Africa region and is the largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The New Zealand delegation includes 38 athletes with intellectual disabilities, five ‘Unified Partners’ (athletes without an intellectual disability), and 21 coaches, managers and support staff. The New Zealand athletes will compete in swimming, athletics, bocce, equestrian, basketball, bowling, powerlifting and football.

Special Olympics New Zealand Chief Executive Carolyn Young, said the athletes had to compete at local and regional events, as well as at the Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games in 2017 in order to qualify for the World Summer Games, and were then selected by a panel of coaches.

“Competing at this international event has been years in the making for many of the athletes, and they have all been working with their coaches to be as prepared as possible,” Carolyn says. “They are set for an amazing experience and we wish them all the best.”

The NZ team:

Swimming:
• Libby Sheppard (Special Olympics Manawatu)
• Portia Johnson (Special Olympics Te Awamutu)
• Unity Collins (Special Olympics Te Awamutu)
• Melissa Donoghue (Special Olympics Waikato)
• Robert Tebbutt (Special Olympics Counties)
• Liam Bartley (Special Olympics North Otago)
• Deshan Walallavita (Special Olympics Te Awamutu)
• Kelly Nathan (Special Olympics Tauranga)

Athletics:
• Holly Jones (Special Olympics Thames Valley)
• Janiece Pollock (Special Olympics Wellington)
• Braden Kendall (Special Olympics Manawatu)
• Matthew Westwood (Special Olympics Manawatu)
• Dominic Faherty (Special Olympics Wellington)
• Kyle Harpur (Special Olympics North Canterbury)

Bocce:
• Natasha Nicholson (Special Olympics Manawatu)
• Barbara Duncan (Special Olympics Hawke’s Bay)

Equestrian:
• Amy Batchelor (Special Olympics Canterbury)
• Charlotte Aroa (Special Olympics Waikato)
• Alexander Goldsack (Special Olympics Bay of Islands)

Basketball:
• Morgan Penny (Special Olympics Tauranga)
• Grace Payne (Special Olympics Counties)
• Wilson Stock (Special Olympics Mana)
• Hyunghwa Ha (Special Olympics North Harbour)
• John Jury (Special Olympics North Taranaki)
• David Menezes (Special Olympics Auckland)
• Nathaniel Tofts (Special Olympics Wellington)
• Carlton Vivian (Special Olympics Canterbury)
• Ruaumoko Pukepuke (Special Olympics Rotorua)
• Mark Cressingham (Special Olympics Manawatu)

Bowling:
• Katie McMillan (Special Olympics Waitakere)
• David Nixon (Special Olympics Waikato)
• Richard Willmott (Special Olympics Canterbury)

Powerlifting:
• James Wilson (Special Olympics Howick-Pakuranga)

Football:
• Brett Edge (Special Olympics Auckland)
• Damian Johanson (Special Olympics Mana)
• Fraser Thomas (Special Olympics North Harbour)
• Thomas Bennison (Special Olympics North Harbour/Auckland)
• Thomas Cowie (Special Olympics Otago)
• Maureen McLeod (Special Olympics Rotorua)
• Nicole Van Der Walt (Special Olympics Mana)
• Frank Walmsley (Special Olympics Wellington)
• Tamara Pavlovic (Special Olympics Auckland)Zara Blake (Special Olympics Hawkes Bay)

Read more about the New Zealand athletes competing at the Games and donate to support their journey at www.specialolympics.org.nz

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