Saudi Arabia wins first gold in swimming


ABU DHABI — Day four of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 saw another strong performance by Saudi Arabia’s athletes, with Abdulaziz Al-Harthi winning the event’s first gold medal in swimming. Saudi Arabia won three gold, one silver, and three bronze medals Monday.

Al-Harthi, 17, from Jeddah, was thrilled to win gold in the men’s 25m freestyle. Earlier in the week, he won a silver medal as part of Saudi Arabia’s 4x100m freestyle relay team. “I was inspired by my teammates winning medals in the races before me,” he said.

Faisal Al-Gosaibi and Faris Khouj, also part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team, each won bronze in their division of the 25m freestyle.

The Saudi Arabian athletes also did exceptionally well in athletics events. Mohammed Al-Olayan won gold in the 5,000m, marking his second medal since he won a bronze in triathlon earlier.

Moayed Al-Darwish won gold in the 400m. Moayed, 29, feels being at the World Games to be inspirational. “There are so many people here from all over the world, so many great athletes. Seeing everyone competing hard on the track is exciting, but it’s good that everyone is friend off the track too. We’re all the same: we all want to win and we want to make everyone proud.”

Heba Shawli also became multiple medal winner when she took bronze in the softball throw event. She previously won gold in the 25m Sunday.

Fares Al-Mateq and Naif Alshammari won silver in the men’s doubles of table tennis. This is Fares’ second win of the World Games, having won gold in the singles event.

Other winners of multiple medals include Hassan Al-Hadhariti, who won three golds and one silver in powerlifting; Sara Felemban and Jana Albeshri, who both won silver in bocce women’s singles and women’s team events, and Shahad Sunbul, who won silver in the bocce women’s team event and bronze in the bocce women’s singles.

As the largest team ever to represent Saudi Arabia at Special Olympics World Games, 50 athletes — 21 female and 29 male — will participate in 10 disciplines, including basketball, bocce, athletics, powerlifting, roller skating, swimming, triathlon, table tennis, bowling and unified sports.

The athletes are accompanied by a delegation including representatives from Special Olympics Saudi Arabia Federation (SOSAF), coaches, and healthcare professionals, as well as their family and more than 200 volunteers from Saudi Arabia. The World Games have more than 7,500 athletes from 192 nations, competing in 24 sports events.