Extravagant is the word that best describes the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi. For the first time, the Games were held in the Middle East and the Special Olympics community was introduced to the wonders and majesty of that part of the world. Coaches and athletes visited the Grand Mosque and the Royal Palace, tasted new foods, and learned about the culture. Gymnastics was one of several sports hosted in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC). In Men’s Artistic competition, 62 athletes vied for a place on the awards podium. In Women’s Artistic, there were 80 competitors going for the gold. In Rhythmic, 143 gymnasts competed not only individual routines, but for the first time in the World Games, Group Floor Exercise and Group Hoop. Amid the splendor of Abu Dhabi, the athletes were the shining stars!
Venue Manager, Easa Abutaher, was new to gymnastics when he accepted the position for the Games. He went above and beyond to educate himself, attending artistic and rhythmic competitions and learning the complexities of running a world class gymnastics event. He and his staff did just that. Technical Delegates George Krenk, Chris Jackson, Sofia Boura, and Rosie Garcia were thrilled with the competition. For the first time, ProScore was used to manage scoring and proved to be a great success.
The spirit of cooperation is always evident at Special Olympics events. Four gentlemen from the US and Ireland, who attend every World Games as spectators, jumped in to help at the artistic competition. Instructed by official Jennie Zazzi, they moved mats, adjusted bars, and assisted coaches with the equipment throughout the competition. The rhythmic gymnasts were treated to a salon for hair and make-up, manned by volunteers who accented their beautiful smiles with rhinestones and bling.
After competition, George Krenk and Cindy Bickman introduced the 2019-2027 artistic gymnastics program.