Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

International sporting legends come together for Special Olympics film

'Rallying Cry' features stars like Pep Guardiola and Gareth Southgate

Some of the most iconic sports stars and coaches in the world have joined forces to record a film for the athletes taking part in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, England football manager Gareth Southgate and former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion David Haye were among those who took part in the film titled Rallying Cry.

The film was created before the British team’s departure for the Games from Heathrow Airport on Friday.

The Games will run from March 14-21 in the UAE capital and is the biggest sporting event taking place across the globe this year, with more than 7,500 athletes from more than 180 countries taking part.

“Sport has transformed the way I see the world and the way that the world sees me,” said Ellie Simmonds, five-time Paralympics gold medallist and Rallying Cry participant.

“It’s obviously my profession, but it’s also so much more than that — helping to define and shape who I am today.”

She said she was only 13 when she went to her first Paralympic Games and it introduced her to new friends, experiences and cultures.

“The athletes heading to Abu Dhabi for the World Games have this all to look forward to and I know just how excited they’ll be,” she said.

“And, while I wish them all good luck, I’m obviously rooting for everyone in the GB Team!”

Kiera Byland, a cyclist and one of the 128 GB athletes competing at the Games, said the Special Olympics has been life-changing for her after being bullied at school.

“All I wanted was friends, but other people thought it was fun to pick on me all day. I felt vulnerable and would hide in the toilets,” she said.

“I desperately wanted to get into sports — but I wasn’t very good at anything that needed hand-eye co-ordination as I have dyspraxia and I struggle with balance.

“The biggest thing the Special Olympics has done for me is to give me a platform to have confidence and to make friends. I’m part of a global family, and each of us within that family has been given a voice. We feel valued.”

The film puts the focus on Special Olympics athletes and features a line-up of sporting stars reading lines from Walter D. Wintle’s poem “The Man Who Thinks He Can”.

Also featured in the film are Olympic and Paralympic gold medallists, Jade Jones, Ellie Simmonds and David Weir; Olympic figure skater and Special Olympics board member, Michelle Kwan; and former England and Arsenal footballer, Alex Scott.

“The World Games in Abu Dhabi is a way of working together towards a common goal of promoting global awareness about the importance of inclusion and tolerance for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Khalfan Al Mazrouei, MD of the Special Olympics World Games.

“It’s great to see these prominent sporting leaders showcasing what it is to be part of a truly unified team and encouraging everyone to join our movement.”

He said that Abu Dhabi will shortly welcome thousands of athletes for the World Games.

“We cannot wait to showcase the world and humanity at its brilliant best,” he said.

Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, said the organisation was grateful for the support shown by the sports stars in making the film.

“I’m proud to be a part of an amazing movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sport for people with intellectual disabilities,” he said.

“The Rallying Cry video symbolises the continuation and evolution of the Special Olympics mission — to tackle the inactivity, stigma, isolation, and injustice that people with intellectual disabilities face.”

Updated: March 7, 2019 02:02 PM

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