The herculean efforts of raising the necessary funds get the St Vincent and the Grenadines Special Olympics team to the World Games in Abu Dhabi, this month, have been accomplished.
Having to come up with creative ways to source the scare financial resources, would have taken some doing from those who voluntarily give of their time to make the journey a reality.
Commendations, though, are high for the intervention of this country’s Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who was able to get the government of Dubai to fund the airfare and accommodation for the entire Vincentian delegation, which is 37, made up of 25 athletes and 12 officials.
This meant that the fund-raising committee’s biggest line item on their budget, $175 000, would have been taken care of, thus giving them some elbow room.
The timely maneuvering would have eased some of the mounting fears of the Special Olympics SVG personnel, who were sweating with anxiety as time drew closer.
With all the travails now behind and the hurdles mounted, the joy of the 25 athletes, more so, is what really counts for their three weeks of experience.
The athletes would bring to bear all the mental, physical and social preparations, which they have been exposed to over the years.
Thus, St Vincent and the Grenadines will contest five disciplines – Athletics, Bocce, Football, Swimming and Tennis.
The input of those who contributed is worth more than a gold medal, as the athletes surely would cherish the more than precious opportunity, not just to travel to a foreign country, but to pit their sporting skills against others who have similar disabilities.
St Vincent and the Grenadines’ 25 athletes, therefore would be among the 7,000 participants expected for the Games.
Not slighting anything, the athletes and team officials would also have an outlet to sell St Vincent and the Grenadines in their small way.
In short, they, by the mere presence in Abu Dhabi, would be carrying out some planned and unplanned ambassadorial duties.
Unfortunately, many persons in that part of the world are unaware that there exist a gem called St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The life-changing occasion for those Special Olympians, who have made the final cut, adds to their positive psyche, and would add to their holistic development.
Those athletes selected, would have earned their places, by simply working hard at their respective disciplines.
The reports are encouraging, and the exceptional commitment of the athletes and coaches leading up to the Abu Dhabi journey, must be documented.
With their long-term vision in place, many of them would have been preparing for the Abu Dhabi trip since they returned from Los Angeles, USA, in 2015, the last edition of the World Games.
Some, though, would have also ensured that they were part of this year’s edition, after they were informed by others of what it is like to attend the World Games.
It must be highlighted as well, that those who were not selected for Abu Dhabi, have continued their training routines, already looking forward to be on the team in 2023.
Surely, this type of determination is almost a foreign happening by those who are involved in main stream sports.
It is this phenomenal act of enthusiasm and keenness that will engender continued support from corporate entities, organisations and individuals.
So as the 25 athletes and two officials embark on their representation to the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, 2019, a toast should be raised for them, as they have in part accomplished the first part of their mission.
As it is with Special Olympics, it is not so much about the medals won, but their participation is what is paramount.
Whether or not the 2019 team better or fall below the 2015 World Summer Games performance in Los Angeles, USA, when the team returned with four gold medals, nine silver, five bronze and one fourth place ribbon, is secondary, as their attitudes and other facets of their lives would change from the Abu Dhabi sojourn.
And, like the athletes are doing, looking ahead to the 2023 Games, so should the board members of Special Olympics SVG, and begin to plan early for the next outing.