More than 7500 athletes from 190 countries are gathering in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, and four Barbados athletes are among them. The Barbados delegation to the world’s largest humanitarian event departed Grantley Adams International Airport on March 6 for a brief stop at London’s Heathrow Airport and then a flight to Abu Dhabi.
All the Barbados athletes are experienced in international competition and are looking forward to bringing home track and field medals to add to their previous accomplishments. Tiffany Branch, who won silver and gold medals in the 2015 Los Angeles Special Olympics World Games, will compete at 100 metres. Tyson Brown, the winner of the inaugural Wesley Worrell Memorial Award, hopes to add to the three gold medals he captured at the 2015 World Games. He will be running at 400 and 800 metres. Akintunde Hall, another gold medal winner in the Los Angeles Games, will go for the gold again at 100 metres. Multi-talented Abbygaile Mayers, who was a gold medal swimmer at the 2015 Games, will hit the track in Abu Dhabi at 100 and 200 metres.
The competition, which runs from March 14 through March 21, will be the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East/NorthAfrica region. In preparation for the visit, the Special Olympics Barbados delegation, parents and guardians received a briefing from Hughie Allman, Chief of Protocol in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The informative session included proper etiquette in terms of dress, greetings, religious practice and eating in Muslim cultures. The Barbados delegation to the World Games includes Head of Delegation, Vernetta Browne; Head Coach, Roger Dyall; Assistant Coach, Janita Austin; Team Doctor, Dr. Lynn-Marie Lovell; and Special Olympics Barbados Chairman, Elizabeth Bowen. Ms. Bowen says, “Special Olympics Barbados is truly grateful to our main sponsors, the Abu Dhabi Local Organising Committee and Digicel Barbados, for their generous support to enable our athletes to take part in the World Games this year. We are also indebted to the Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports and our other supporters in this venture.”
The 2019 World Games kick off March 14 with a star-studded Opening in the iconic Zayed Sports City Stadium in the heart of Abu Dhabi. Barbados can tune into ESPN News for the Opening Ceremony and an opportunity to see the Barbados team march into the largest sports venue in the Persian Gulf. Subsequent coverage of the World Games competition can be viewed on ESPN News, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ABC.
*photo, airport interview: “The Special Olympics Barbados delegation to the 2019 Abu Dhabi Special Olympics World Games is interviewed by CBC TV before departure to the Games. (l to r: Tiffany Branch, Dr. Lynn-Marie Lovell, Janita Austin, Roger Dyall, Tyson Browne, Abbygaile Mayers, Elizabeth Bowen, Akintunde Hall, not pictured Head of Delegation, Vernetta Browne).”
*photo, protocol briefing: “Hughie Allman, Chief of Protocol in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, briefs the Special Olympics Barbados delegation to the World Games, parents and guardians on etiquette in Muslim cultures.”
*photo, cheque presentation: “Leia Walker, Digicel Marketing Manager, presents a generous donation to the Special Olympics Barbados delegation for participation in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Special Olympics World Games. (l to r, Special Olympics Barbados Chairman Elizabeth Bowen; Team Doctor, Dr. Lynn-Marie Lovell; Assistant Coach, Janita Austin; athlete, Abbygaile Mayers; athlete, Tiffany Branch: athlete, Tyson Browne; athlete, Akintunde Hall; Head Coach, Roger Dyall; Digicel Marketing Manager, Leia Walker)