They went to the 2019 Abu Dhabi World Special Olympic Summer Games, they participated and they came back home with a total of 15 medals, what an achievement for Zimbabwe. That is the story of Team Zimbabwe to the Special Olympics World Summer Games which were recently held in Abu Dhabi in which over 170 countries were in attendance.

Zimbabwe sent a strong team comprising 24 athletes and officials in athletics, bocce and golf this was as per the quota that they were given by the organizers. Team Zimbabwe though it was small as compared to other teams, but its story can be best summed up by the old adage, “it is not the size of the dog that matters but the fight in it”. Indeed Zimbabwe demonstrated that they did not need to have many athletes and officials but quality was the cornerstone of whatever they did. This position was corroborated by the team’s Head of Delegation Viola Musariri who heaped praise on the athletes and the technical team for managing leaving an indelible mark at the world sporting jamboree which was also filled with pomp and fanfare.

“The success of the 24 member delegation (16 athletes and 8 officials) to the Special Olympics World Summer Games is attributable to the astute leadership, diligent planning for the Games and the support that we received from our various partners.

“When we held the selection of the Team, we made sure that the all the members of the Technical team were brought up to speed with regards to the latest coaching techniques and technical rules so that we are not prejudiced unnecessarily” Viola Musariri said.

The Team which was funded from the fundraising activities of Special Olympics Zimbabwe saw them emphasizing on quality in everything that they did. Some of the activities that the Team undertook include camping, specialized training of the members of the Technical team and all this was made possible as a result of the support that they received in the run up to the Games.

“We are highly indebted to the amazing support that we received from our partners otherwise our campaign would have been in vein. While we would like to take to apply for an increase in the quota that we are given based on the sporting activities that we report on, we are financially hamstrung.  All hope is not lost because we are currently working on more fundraising initiatives so that we have more sporting disciplines being accommodated in the team and our programming. In all this were guided by the need to produce high quality products which would not only put the name of our beautiful country on the World Special Olympics map but will also prop up Special Olympics Zimbabwe brand” added Viola.

The achievement of the team has inspired other athletes to participate in Special Olympics activities. Viola said that they were going to showcase the winning athletes as a way of enticing other athletes to get involved in Special Olympics programmes at various levels.

“As Special Olympics we have discovered that if we have to entice other parents to let their children participate in Special Olympics programmes, we have to build tangible products that we can sell. We have noted that parents are more likely to allow their children to partake in Special Olympics programmes if they see the achievements of other children. Talking to parents without showing them the tangible results will yield very minimum results unlike if you demonstrate to them what has been achieved and it is for this reason that we are going to be showcasing world games athletes” said Musariri.

It can be concluded that being handicapped is not an impediment to attaining sporting greatness. Well done Team Zimbabwe for representing us well at the World Summer Games, let this be beginning of greater success stories to come.