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How Team GB did at the Special Olympics World Games 2019

Special Olympics Opening Ceremony

In March 2019, over the course of a week, more than 7,500 athletes took part in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, representing just under 200 nations. In this blog, we look back over the week’s action and how Team GB did.

How did Great Britain do?

Great Britain performed spectacularly at the 2019 World Games. 169 medals were won in Abu Dhabi, with 63 of them golds. Not bad for an overall squad that has 128 competitors!

Michelle Carney, CEO of Special Olympics Great Britain, said: “Words cannot describe the feelings I have for the 128 athletes that make up the Special Olympic Great Britain team. They not only performed amazingly well, but they entered into the spirit of the games 110 per cent and been amazing ambassadors for Great Britain.”

Special Olympics Surrey in Abu Dhabi image

Special Olympics Surrey in Abu Dhabi image (via Special Olympics Surrey’s Twitter)

A handful of athletes from Surrey were part of Team GB and they all did their county and country proud! Luke Worgan managed to claim a silver medal for cycling, whilst Natalie Francis won a fantastic bronze medal in ten pin bowling. Other strong performers at the World Games included Rebecca Starling and Tamaar Alami, who finished seventh in ten pin bowling, and Hannah Kemp, who we featured in our previous Special Olympics blog, finished fifth in both the 100m run and shot put!

Kiera Byland’s triumphant story

One particularly fantastic story was the achievements of Kiera Byland, who has a learning disability called Rubinstein Taybi syndrome. She took home three gold medals for cycling which, in addition to her three golds at the 2015 World Games, gives her a grand total of six golds. emulating the achievements of cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy!

Her story is a truly inspirational one; you can read a blog written by her earlier this year where she explains her background and her journey to overcoming the barriers to taking part in sport and becoming the phenomenal athlete that she is today:

“In 2014, my mum and dad had taken me to a MENCAP swimming competition just as me, Kiera. No club — just me. When we arrived, we met someone from the Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB). Her job was to let families know of local SO clubs in their area and that’s how we found out about Cheshire Penguins. This is the swim club that I joined and they became my family overnight. I’m still there now teaching and competing. I know this sounds a bit lame but my life did change forever…

Kiera Byland competing in Abu Dhabi image

Kiera Byland competing in Abu Dhabi (via Special Olympics)

“Who am I now? I am confident, I am of value, and most of all I am myself, no one can make me feel less than that any more, I have ID and I’m proud to be who I am. I am, after all, ME…”

Supporting the Special Olympics movement

Of course, even though the next Summer World Games isn’t until 2023 in Berlin, the Special Olympics movement – one that celebrates inclusion, diversity, and fun – is a year-round one. If you would like to find out more about the movement, visit the Special Olympics GB and Special Olympics Surrey websites to find out more.

Challengers wants to say a big well done and congratulations to everyone that took part in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi – all of you are absolute superstars, overcoming barriers in front of a global audience, and incredible ambassadors for inclusion.