This year, the world’s largest humanitarian sports event, the Special Olympics World Games was for the first time held in the Middle East. From 14th-21st March 2019, 192 countries travelled to Abu Dhabi to compete in Olympic sporting events including golf.
Last week, Yas Links Golf Club gifted the UAE Special Olympic Golf Team with membership packs to support their participation in the sport. Each athlete received complimentary golf membership at Yas Links for one year. This gives all athletes unlimited access to both the Championship Links course, Par 3 Academy, and driving range facilities.
The golf tournament was hosted at the Yas Links Golf Club, an 18 hole Championship Links course designed by Kyle Phillips. Over 150 athletes competed in the tournament and were split into 5 divisions based on golfing ability. Level 1 athletes participated in skill challenges on both the driving range and the academy course. These skills challenges involved pitching over an obstacle, putting and chip shots, and iron/wood shots. Athletes in levels 2-5 competed in either 9 or 18 holes on the Championship course. In the Level 2 competition, Special Olympics Athletes were accompanied by a unified partner.
James Ibbetson, Director of Golf at Yas Links, said: “The athletes showed so much hard work, dedication and passion in the lead up to the games, taking part in weekly coaching and practice sessions with Director of Instruction, Mathew Parker. We, therefore, did not want this to just simply finish after the games, undoing all of their hard work. We would love to see all of the athletes continue to improve and develop so that the next time the games come around they can compete within a higher level. We are all so honoured to be a part of such an incredible event and we look forward to seeing the athletes grow in their golf journey with our ongoing support.”
UAE team results:
Pieter Snyman – Gold (Level 1)
Ali bin Saif Al Sumaida – Silver (Level 1)
Saif Al Qubaisi – Bronze (Level 1)
Gabrielle Snowden – 5th place (Level 1)
Vincent Bayer – Silver (Level 2)
Omar Al Bastaki, Unified Partner – Silver (Level 2)