By Amelia Fisher-Starzynski, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, 01 March 2019: Faroe Islands has announced it will send a ten-strong team (Faroe Islands team participate) to the Special Olympics World Games 2019 – the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event – which is taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 14-21 March.
The ten Faroese athletes participating will compete in athletics, swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, boccia and badminton.
The Faroe Islands has been a member of the Special Olympics – a global movement which focuses on the empowerment of people with intellectual disabilities through sport – since 2002 and has competed at every summer Special Olympics World Games since 2003.
Ahead of the start of the games, the team will be hosted in Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, as part of the event’s Host Town programme.
The programme offers athletes the chance to experience Emirati hospitality, customs and traditions in a cultural exchange.
Swimmer Signa Vár Joensen said:
“I’ll be participating in three swimming events in Abu Dhabi and I can’t wait to get started.
I was lucky to experience the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles and so I know just what it means to represent the Faroe Islands.
I’m enormously proud to be Faroese and I’m sure everyone back home will be cheering the whole team on to inspire us even more.”
Meiken Olsen, who will be participating in athletics, added:
“I’m so proud to be representing my country in the Special Olympics and am really excited to get to Abu Dhabi.
I’ve competed in the Special Olympics before and it was really moving to represent the Faroe Islands on the international stage – an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Jon Hestoy, Vice President of the Faroese Confederation of Sports and Olympic Committee, said:
“Faroe Islands is proud to be a part of the inclusion revolution and compete at the Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
Our athletes have been training hard and will relish the opportunity to compete for their country on the international stage.
“The development of sport on the Faroe Islands is a national priority and we at the FCSOC, alongside our colleagues at Parasport Føroyar – the Faroese Paralympic Committee – welcome the incredible opportunity this global event offers our athletes to compete and excel amongst athletes of all nations.
“Sadly the opportunity to compete under the Faroese flag at this level is something that not all Faroese athletes get to experience.
We continue to campaign for Olympic recognition with the IOC to ensure equal opportunities are available to all athletes on the Faroe Islands.
Inclusion is a core principle of sport and one that we firmly believe should apply regardless of your country of birth.”
The full Faroe Islands team is (Faroe Islands team participate):
Jenny Solveig Thomsen
Faroe Islands team participate Swimming
Signa Vár Joensen
Faroe Islands team participate Athletics
Meiken Salberg Olsen
Faroe Islands team participate Badminton
Abu Dhabi 2019 will welcome more than 7,000 athletes from over 170 countries across 24 sports.
Faroe Islands’ involvement in the 2019 edition of the Special Olympics comes at a time when the country is also seeking to gain Olympic recognition with the International Olympic Committee.
Something it has so far been unable to attain despite a 40-year campaign for inclusion.
The Faroe Islands, which has a population of 51,000, has been a self-governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948 and competes in the Olympic Games as Denmark.
Located north-west of Scotland’s Shetland Islands and almost 1,000km from Denmark, the Faroe Islands has been campaigning for more than 40 years for Olympic recognition.
The Faroese Confederation of Sports was established in 1939 and its Olympic Committee in 1982.
Sport on the islands is 100% self-funded, including all anti-doping activities [no sport funding comes from Denmark].
18,000 Faroese are members of sports clubs which is driven and overseen by the FCSOC.
Faroe Islands is a founding member of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and has competed in every Paralympic Summer Games since 1984.
It is also recognised in its own right by eight International Federations:
archery, badminton, football, handball, judo, swimming, table tennis and volleyball.
Meiken is a veteran of Faroese team having first competed in athletics for the Faroe Islands at the Special Olympics in Dublin in 2003.
She specialises in the 100m and 200m sprint but has also competed successfully in boccia.
On top of training up to five times a week, Meiken works for the national broadcaster on the Faroe Islands, KVF.
Signa Vár Joensen
Signa Vár is a 20-year-old student from Tórshavn who will compete in the 100m butterfly, 200m freestyle and 200m medley in Abu Dhabi.
She is one of Parasport Føroyar’s standout young swimmers, making her Special Olympics debut at Los Angeles in 2015. She currently trains eight times a week.