Israeli President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin welcomed athletes of the Special Olympics to Beit HaNasi last week as part of the launch of the team that will participate in the 2019 Special Olympic games in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The event opened with a judo exhibition bout between Arik Ze’evi and Levav Barkan, a Special Olympian and the winner of the contest.
Special Olympian swimmer 8 year-old Shai Dagan presented the president with a Play Unified ball, which symbolises the links between people with and without intellectual disabilities.
Addressing those present, President Rivlin said: “Anyone who has ever participated in any sport knows that one of the secrets of success is how you use your strength. In sport, it isn’t enough to be strong if you want to win. As people who work every day on their disciplines, with determination and extraordinary mental strength you are experts in how to use your strength. You know when to let go and to conserve your strength and when to push yourself to your limit. That spirit that you bring with you to the Special Olympics is something we can all learn and draw inspiration from. Because of it, you are winners before the competition even starts.”
The president added “you prove with your bodies that our minds have an incredible way of bringing our bodies to life, of surprising it, achieving things that at first sight appear impossible. You prove that human will is the most important force in nature. We are fortunate to live in a time of change. But allow me to hope that in the near future we will no longer need Special Olympics, and that you can take your part and compete in world sports. I wish that the day will come when the Olympic Games will include competitions of different kinds and allow you to compete, to dream and to win.”