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Jamaicans on goal hunt today

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Jamaica's teams will make a dash for medals on today's final day of competition here at the 2019 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

The basketball players have their eyes on gold in today's unified Division Two final against Saudi Arabia at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

The teams previously met during the group stage, with Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) withstanding early pressure from the Saudis to register a 37-28 win.

“I believe in my players; they have worked hard and I know they are ready for the final. It's a privilege to be coaching here — I'm not overwhelmed but I'm just excited for this game,” Coach Nagash Cockburn told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

The unified male football team is also locked in on gold in today's Division Two showdown against Special Olympics Austria at Zayed Sports City.

Jamaica Head Coach Shane Richards is wary of the Austrians, but believes he has the formula for victory.

“The Austria team is playing very good, so we have to just go out there and to play like we are hungry for it. I watched them and saw them playing a lot of diagonal long passes. I think they have a height advantage but I've seen things for us to exploit. We just want to go out and get that gold medal to carry back to Jamaica,” said the football coach.

The Jamaicans have another shot at gold today when they take on Japan in male volleyball at ADNEC.

The teams clashed twice during the preliminary stage with one win each.

Jamaica's Head Coach Loran Grant expressed confidence ahead of today's tiebreaker.

“I'm confident going into the Japan game, and once the guys come out and play to their full potential we should come home with the gold. They are a competitive team but if we stick to our game plan we can come away with the gold,” he told the Observer.

In badminton singles, Janoy Daley will have a crack at gold when he goes up against Bahrain's Husain Mahmood.

Daley is full of confidence after already securing gold at these games — in tandem with unified partner Travis Ebanks in the doubles category.

“It's going to be tough match because the guy that I'm playing against is not easy. I have to push through and make it into a victory — I'm going to get a gold medal,” Daley said.

The Jamaican contingent is also targeting medals in bocce, aquatics and athletics today.

Bocce players Pamela Brown and Delroy Sullivan are slated for mixed doubles at ADNEC, while the swimmers close out with the 4x50-metre relay at Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai.

At Dubai Police Officers Stadium, SOJ athletes are scheduled for action in 800m and 4x100m events.

Jamaica have so far garnered 25 medals in the UAE, four behind the number they achieved at the 2015 World Games in the United States.

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