Sand for snow
The intellectually disabled of Special Olympics Egypt collected seven medals at the Winter Olympics Games in Nagano, Japan. Abeer Anwar
Although participating with one of the smallest delegations in the 8th Special Olympics Winter Games, Egypt's four-player snowshoeing team took one gold, four silver and three bronze medals in three events: the 100m, 200m and 4X100m relay. The team consisted of Mohamed Hassan, Osama Ahmed, Mohamed Abdel-Aziz and Ibrahim Ahmed. "I'm very happy to take part in this Games. It is a nice experience and I collected a medal," Abdel-Aziz said.
"The players did their best," said Ashraf El-Ogeil, SOE sports director. "We did not expect this number of medals, especially in the Winter Games, as Egypt lacks snow. The athletes trained on sand instead." He also attributed the success to the efforts of Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, the honorary chairwoman of SOE.
The Special Olympics Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region collected 29 medals in total: 14 gold, 11 silver and four bronze in 11 events, including snowshoeing, floor hockey, alpine skiing and cross country skiing.
"I saw the athletes' happiness and joy when collecting their medals," Ayman Abdel-Wahab, MENA managing director, said. "It was such a nice chance for them to meet their friends from all over the globe. I thank all participants for their efforts and the success they have achieved and I hope the next Winter Games will witness the participation of more MENA programmes."
The next Special Olympics Winter Games will be held in Sarajevo 2009.