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An emotional opening ceremony

During the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics Gibraltar National Games, a poignant moment encapsulated the essence of this cherished annual event. After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the Games made a triumphant return to our calendar last year, bearing profound significance within the special needs community. Not only does it provide a platform for athletes to compete on their home turf against visiting rivals, surrounded by their families and friends, but it also serves as a poignant reminder of the evolving concept of “inclusivity” in our society.

This year’s Special Olympics Gibraltar National Games opening ceremony delivered a truly extraordinary moment that will forever linger in the memories of those who witnessed and participated in it. It was a moment where even the most stoic of onlookers couldn’t restrain their tears, as dancers from Yalta’s Dance Studios and students from St. Martins School joined forces in a heartwarming performance.

This emotionally charged choreography seamlessly intertwined various concepts and sentiments through the medium of music and movement. From the grace and beauty of the dance to the genuine joy and radiant smiles on the faces of the participants, the emotions ran deep, leaving few in the audience with dry eyes.

“One moment that truly touched the heart,” murmured one of the many dedicated individuals who contributed to the event’s success, wiping away a tear. “I couldn’t help but shed a tear myself,” admitted Yalta Pons, the owner of the dance studio, as she pointed to Krystel, the choreographer who deserved all the accolades. Surianne Dalmedo, Krystel Sebtaoui, Dawn Holmes and the St Martins dancers had all made it happen.

In the VIP seats, political figures, the Governor of Gibraltar, Special Olympics Gibraltar officials, sponsors, and other dignitaries joined nearly 200 spectators who had gathered to witness the opening ceremony. They all rose in unison, applauding for a remarkable five minutes, such was the profound impact of this performance on all those present.

This moving spectacle served as a fitting conclusion to an opening ceremony that featured the traditional participation of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, RAF Cadets, and a scout band, leading the way to the official commencement of the games.

Any minor mishap, such as the briefly inverted flag, quickly faded into insignificance as the focus shifted to the inspiring participants.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run commenced its journey from Bayside Comprehensive School, where headteachers of the comprehensives and college passed the torch to relay runners from law enforcement agencies. This relay culminated at Lathbury Sports Complex, where the torch was handed over to Special Olympics Gibraltar athletes. Following them, the Law Enforcement Torch Run runners, saluted by representatives of various law enforcement agencies parading alongside, completed the final lap, igniting the Special Olympic flame.

Max Desoisa had the honor of lighting the flame, celebrating with a resounding thumbs-up.

The National Games, spanning three days and concluding this Friday with ten-pin bowling and a swimming gala, saw the participation of a team from the Isle of Man and athletes from neighboring regions, underscoring the spirit of unity and sportsmanship that defines this remarkable event.

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