As one of the seven torchbearers at the opening ceremony of the 16th Special Olympics World Games in Berlin on Saturday night, Pakistan’s Sana made the crowd at the famous Olympiastadion cheer for her. She ran as hard as she could
The runner from Mirpurkhas looked happy and won everyone’s hearts by running as if she were running for her event.
Asif Azeem, the publicity manager for the Special Olympics Pakistan (SOP), told from Berlin, “Sana said she was very happy and that it was a big deal for her and for Pakistan.”
The female athletes and officials wore bright ghararas, which are formal eastern clothes, and the male athletes wore traditional kameez shalwar suits with waistcoats.
“All the athletes were very happy to be here, and as they walked with Pakistani flags in their hands at the opening ceremony of 16th Special Olympics World Games, they showed that they are not just here to have fun, but also to show the world that they are strong and determined,” said Azeem.
The event was started by Tim Shriver, who is in charge of the Special Olympics, and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is the President of Germany. Ronak Lakhani, who is chair of the SOP, is also with the group, and she was the head of the team at the event. Sarwat Gillani, a representative for the SOP, joined the group, and Yasmeen Haider, an adviser for the SOP, was also there.
Azeem also said that the players had worked hard for the past four years. “The last World Games were in 2019, and right after that, work on the next games began. Ronak Lakhani, who is the chair of the SOP, has led the plans, the players, and the staff well this time as well.
“The players and their teachers set up camps in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. Five days before the event, we came to Berlin.
“The chairperson made sure that the athletes had time to get used to the conditions here as well.”
The SOP will send 87 athletes to compete in 11 different sports. There are 54 men and 33 women on the team.
Azeem said on Sunday that Pakistan’s field hockey game was set to happen after the review.
“Pakistan has played two games, against Belgium and Germany. On Sunday, the players’ skills in powerlifting and swimming were also evaluated,” said Azeem.
He also said that the Pakistani society in Berlin took good care of the sports. “We had a biryani party, where the players ate their best food, and the Pakistani society here was happy to feed them. In the same way, the players wanted to eat daal, which is cooked beans in a Pakistani style. The hotel where we are staying made it happen. “It’s been a very happy time for everyone,” Azeem said.
He said that Sana, the swimmers Hassan and Fatima, and the Bocci player Simran Mahesh were having a great time training in Berlin, where they had access to top-notch equipment.