We were delighted to be able to welcome Special Olympic athletes, Michelle Kwan and Matthew Williams to Cranleigh yesterday. Abu Dhabi has been selected to host the Special Olympics in 2019 and Michelle and Matthew were able to tell us a little more about it. They told us of their background, about competing at the Games, about their feelings and emotions as well as valuable tales of failure and perseverance. Cranleigh pupils asked lots of questions which the athletes answered with real passion.

The Special Olympics is for people with intellectual disabilities such as autism, epilepsy and Down syndrome, providing an international competition platform to discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Michelle is the USA’s most decorated figure skater and Matthew has represented Canada at basketball and speed skating. Both of them are now on the international board of the Special Olympics and we wish them well as they prepare for this event in two years’ time. The Special Olympics International Board of Directors unanimously voted to award the 2019 World Summer Games to Abu Dhabi last November. The decision was based on a comprehensive bid proposal and a site visit by a board committee. Even more, the board was impressed by the United Arab Emirates' vision to create inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities throughout the UAE, the region and the world. The Games will be held in March 2019 and the event is set to be the world’s largest humanitarian and sporting occasion of the year.