A 139-member Bangladesh contingent, including 103 specially-abled athletes, will leave for Abu Dhabi, UAE on Friday to take part in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, scheduled from March 14 to 21.
Athletes from 180 countries will take part in the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event and a global movement, which focuses on the empowerment of people with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport.
Bangladesh will take part in 11 events of nine disciplines with an expectation of bagging 15 to 20 gold medals where a total of 28 unified-players have been included in the players’ list to compete with the specially-abled athletes.
In the last edition in the USA in 2015, Bangladesh took part in seven disciplines – football (male), swimming, athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce and table tennis and bagged 58 medals including 18 gold, 22 silvers, and 18 bronze medals.
This year, they will compete in four more events — basketball, handball, volleyball and women’s football.
Special Olympics Bangladesh chapter chairman Shamim Matin Chowdhury disclosed the details during a press conference at the National Sports Council auditorium on Monday.
‘We want to flourish our specially-abled children. We do need a special sports complex for specially-abled athletes to stay and for their training and see what they can do,’ said Shamim.
Shamim thanked Bangladesh team sponsor Coca-Cola Bangladesh Ltd, for its support.
She also sought support from wealthy people of the society to integrate the specially-abled athletes to the mainstream of the society, informing that there are about 7,000 specially-abled athletes from 2,000 families in Bangladesh.
The founder chairman of the Special Olympics Bangladesh Ashraf Dowla believed that the athletes would be able to bring 15-20 gold medals for the nation.
‘We are expecting 15 to 20 gold medals in this edition alongside in swimming, badminton, bocce and table tennis,’ said Ashraf.
‘Special Olympics are struggling for the betterment of the intellectually disables people for the last 80 years, but we are facing barriers till date.’
Since 1993, specially-abled athletes brought 454 medals — 261 golds, 109 silvers and 84 bronzes – for Bangladesh participating in nine editions.
Bangladesh head of delegation Nurul Amin and team sponsor Coca-Cola Bangladesh Country Head Ajay Bathija also spoke on the occasion.
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