WINDHOEK – Namibia’s 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games gold medalist and evergreen veteran runner, Ruben Gowaseb on Saturday once again stole international headlines when he clinched the country’s first gold medal at the ongoing World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
At an advanced age of 40, Gowaseb continues to defy Mother Nature and gets faster with age, and this weekend, the Namibian marathon trouper showed his challengers a clean pair of heels in Division Four of the men’s half marathon to win the race in a time of 1:46:33.00 and eventually scoop Namibia’s first gold medal at the games.
In other results, Namibia’s unified basketball team representing the country at the games also gave a good account of themselves when they won two of their three opening matches.
Namibia’s unified basketball team defeated Iraq 13-11 in the opening match on Friday and went on to secure another win against Algeria on Saturday, beating fellow Africans 23-19 in their second match at the games. But boys and girls from the Land of the Brave failed to maintain their good start when they lost 15-22 against the Cayman Islands late Saturday.
The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, currently taking place in the United Arab Emirates, started Thursday and will end on 21 March, with a total of 170 countries and 7 000 athletes competing in various sport codes.
Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to five million athletes and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.
Like the International Paralympic Committee, the Special Olympics organization is recognized by the International Olympic Committee; however, unlike the Paralympic Games, Special Olympics World Games are not held in the same year or in conjunction with the Olympic Games.
The Special Olympics World Games alternate between summer and winter games, in two-year cycles, recurring every fourth year. The first games were held on July 20, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois, with about 1000 athletes from the U.S. and Canada.
International participation however expanded in subsequent games. In 2003, the first summer games were held outside the United States in Dublin, Ireland with 7000 athletes from 150 countries. The most recent World Summer Games were held in Los Angeles, California in 2015.
This year’s games in Abu Dhabi will be the first Special Olympics World Games to be held in the Middle East.