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The best are back
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 07 - 10 - 2004

Intellectually disabled Egyptian athletes got to meet Mrs Suzanne Mubarak. Abeer Anwar reports
Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, honorary chairwoman of Special Olympics Egypt (SOE), received intellectually disabled athletes after they returned victorious from the Middle East and North Africa Games. SOE finished first in the championship which took place from 4-7 September in Tunisia. The athletes won 33 medals -- 15 gold, seven silver and 11 bronze -- from floor hockey, aquatics, basketball, table tennis and unified soccer.
"I am very happy to have had the chance to shake hands with Mrs Suzanne Mubarak," swimmer Heba Salah said. "I promise to collect more medals in the future."
Mrs Mubarak congratulated the 55-athlete delegation, saying Egyptian sports had started to regain its leading role starting with the five medals won in the Athens Olympics, followed by the SOE triumphs. "I have been following your progress and the spirit with which you fought with," Mrs Mubarak added.
Mrs Mubarak invited all intellectually disabled individuals to join the Special Olympics movement which offers not only sports championships but medical support through the Healthy Athletes Programme, family counselling through Family Forum, vocational work, and relationships through the Best Buddies programme.
Mrs Mubarak also announced that this year's "Reading for All" festival will include books for children with intellectual disabilities. She ended by thanking all the SOE athletes and officials for keeping Egypt on top.
Mrs Mubarak then honoured the athletes. First came unified soccer which collected the bronze medal followed by a basketball silver and floor hockey silver.
Individual sports started with table tennis. Bothaina Attiya on two gold medals in individual and doubles events and Yousra Ahmed received a gold and bronze in individual and doubles events. Wessam Mohamed won gold and a bronze and Mohamed Heider a bronze.
The aquatics team was composed of Islam Ibrahim with two gold medals in the 50ms backstroke and 4x50 relay, and silver in 25ms freestyle. Noureddin Hassan won two gold and one silver, Hamed Mohamed had three gold, Christine Wadie two gold and one silver, Heba Salah two gold and one silver and Hebatallah Anwar three gold.
In track and field, Mohamed Ezzeddin won a silver medal, Shadi Abdel-Moati a silver and bronze, Mohamed Hosni a silver and bronze, Fatma Ali a gold and two bronze, Fatma Abdel-Fattah two gold and one bronze, Safaa Mustafa two bronze and Nada Osama a bronze. Sari Mohamed finished fourth.
Ismail Osman, SOE chairman, thanked Mrs Mubarak for her efforts. "You have always given these children your utmost care and that was the main reason behind SOE being chosen a model programme and one of the best around the world. We thank you for giving the athletes the care and love they did not have in the past."
Magda Moussa, SOE president, thanked Mrs Mubarak on behalf of every parent for offering their intellectually disabled children the chance to express themselves and be an active part of society.


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