By TENAJH SWEETING
SPECIAL Olympics Bahamas athletes are ready to go for the 2023 Special Olympics World Games which is less than one month away.
The games are set for June 17-25 in Berlin, Germany, for the first time and will see competition across 24 sports. Special Olympics Bahamas has been competing in the World Games since their first appearance in 1979 and will field seven athletes at next month’s competition.
The athletes will compete in the bowling, swimming and track events. With the athletes undergoing physical training for the competition since October of last year, director of the organisation Gilbert Williams talked about the preparation with less than 30 days remaining.
“We started off with weekly training for our track athletes [which] has picked up to at least twice a week, bowlers a bit of a challenge there but they have been getting in some training at the Icons entertainment centre,” Williams said.
The director added the bowlers have been training twice monthly but they also got the opportunity to get additional training for a weekend at a bowling camp in Florida which consisted of 15 games.
Meanwhile, the swimmers have been utilising the beach and the South Beach pool as well as the pool at the Fox Hill Community Centre.
The athletes are also coming off a World Games training camp which they took part in a week ago. Ahead of next month’s games, Williams said although the group of athletes have an extra push it’s still business as usual because they train and compete all year long. “I think all of the pressure if there is any pressure comes prior to team selection where everybody is doing whatever they can to try and ensure that they are a part of the final team that is selected but once that selection process takes place, I think athletes breathe a sigh of relief,” he said.
At this year’s 50th CARIFTA games, Special Olympics Bahamas had six of their athletes participate in the 100m and 200m track events. The events not only served as a feel good moment for the athletes of the global organization but also were used as a measuring stick to determine their progress in terms of training in preparation for the World Games in Berlin.
Athletes to be on the lookout for next month will include Deron Forbes (200m, 400m, and 4x400m relays), the team’s youngest member Justin Miller (100m, 200m, 4x400m relays) and bowling singles and doubles competitor Austin Green who competed in the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Although the director noted that expectations will be high for the Special Olympics athletes to secure medals he simply wants them to try their best in Berlin and everything else will fall into place.
“We [are] already extremely proud of all our athletes for pushing themselves to the point where they actually have been selected to participate to represent the country. Hopefully it will all pan out where their best is not just good enough for us but is good enough for the Bahamian public,” Wiliams said.
The team will leave for competition on June 11 to participate in the host town program in Papenburg, Germany.
Persons are encouraged to follow the Special Olympics Bahamas social media pages during this year’s Special Olympics World Games in Berlin and also subscribe to their YouTube channel for coverage of their athletes in action this June.
For persons that wish to interact with the athletes ahead of their travels they can meet them at this weekend’s Community Grill at the Church of God and Christ from 11am to 3pm.