Special Olympics: New Zealanders impress at Abu Dhabi games

Kiwi athletes have finished the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi with 32 medals - five gold, 13 silver and 14 bronze.

The closing ceremony in Dubai took place on Friday (NZ time).

Deshan Walallavita and Dominic Faherty (both 50m butterfly) claimed back-to-back golds in the pool, while athletes Janiece Pollock (long lump, 100m) and Dominic Faherty (200m) were on top of the podium for their track and field efforts.

In a touching moment during the games, the New Zealand athletes - along with other teams -  gathered at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to honour Christchurch shooting victims.

Powerlifter James Wilson, who won four silver medals, dedicated his results to the 50 victims.

"All my medals are for them," he said. "Hopefully these medals will make people happy back home.

"I also want to tell everyone, I have worked really hard."

The event has drawn plenty of praise online with eight-time Olympic medallist Usain Bolt and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeting their support for athletes competing.

Highlights include a Jamaican sprinter racing on his hands to a silver medal, while an American basketballer landed a 3/4 court buzzer-beater.

New Zealand's team included 43 athletes with intellectual disabilities, five 'unified partners' (athletes without an intellectual disability), and 21 coaches, managers and support staff.


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