Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019: Wednesday, March 20

Special Olympics

Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019: Wednesday, March 20

  • Kevin Negandhi Hosts Nightly Coverage of 2019 Special Olympics World Games
  • LIVE Daily Streaming Competition Coverage on ESPN3
  • ESPN.com coverage continues with powerful features and stories

ESPN’s global coverage of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 began with live coverage of the Games’ Opening Ceremony and continues every night this week with Special Olympics Winter Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

Hosted by ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi, the program originates on site in Abu Dhabi and includes interviews, features, special guests, a daily competition showcase segment and contributions from ESPN’s Julie Foudy, Jen Lada and Gene Wojciechowski, as well as ESPN contributor and Special Olympics Ambassador, Daina Shilts.


  • Michelle “Angel” Athenas: An athlete who was non-verbal for much of her youth and abused in the foster system. Angel was adopted at 8 years old and is now flourishing. She has a huge personality and is full of confidence, which led her to four gold medals in powerlifting at the USA Games in Seattle.
  • Arizona Unified Basketball Team: A close group of athletes and partners, who have seen their lives changed by Special Olympics.
  • Gerald Mballe: A refugee and unified partner with the Italian 7-a-side soccer team, sits down with Kevin Negandhi to talk about the power of inclusion and unified sports.
  • Competition highlights include swimming, handball, basketball (with Massachusetts native Matt Millett’s ¾ court shot), golf, soccer, cycling (Kiera Byland’s quest for a 3rd gold) and track (including Minnesota native Chris Tucker in the 100M dash).

For those that missed last night’s show, highlights included:

  • Kiera Byland, a cyclist from the U.K., who’s participation in the sport helped her find herself and overcome bullying. Watch
  • A Conversation with the ‘First Family’ of Special Olympics: Robin Roberts sits down with the five children of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Watch

ESPN’s global digital platforms – the world’s leading portfolio of digital sports properties in the world, including local editions of ESPN.com and the ESPN App, streaming platforms and more – are offering extensive coverage throughout Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi.

With news, long-form feature storytelling, video, blogs from athletes, coaches and volunteers, photo galleries and more, ESPN examines the people and topics of the Special Olympics movement.

Among the highlighted coverage:

  • The Journey to Abu Dhabi for One Special Olympics Powerlifter: When Sylvester Vermillion started powerlifting five years ago, he discovered that he was stronger than he thought he was – and at the Special Olympics World Games, he’s going to show the world that strength. Read
  • Ashton Smith: Special Olympics athlete Ashton Smith wants to see swimming become a more inclusive sport. “You don’t let society dictate what you can do,” she said. Watch
  • To Belong, The Opening to the Special Olympics World Games: Gwendoline Christi welcomes the world to the United Arab Emirates for a global celebration of acceptance of inclusion achieved through athletic competition. Watch

ESPN Images is capturing photos from around the Special Olympics World Games throughout the week, including those below.
















Day/Date Program Time (ET) Network
Thu, Mar 21 2019 Special Olympics World Games 12 a.m. ESPN2
Fri, Mar 22 2019 Special Olympics World Games 12 a.m. ESPN2
Sat, Mar 30 Best of Special Olympics World Games 3 p.m. ABC



ESPN is proud of its relationship with Special Olympics, which spans more than 33 years. Over the past five years, ESPN has continued to deepen its relationship with the Special Olympics movement. ESPN served as the Official Broadcaster for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle as well as the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics in Chicago. In 2019, ESPN will serve as the Official Media Partner of the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, hosted in Abu Dhabi.

In 2016, ESPN and Special Olympics committed to continuing their alliance to use the power of sports to promote social inclusion and acceptance by reaching two agreements: an extension, and expansion, of ESPN’s Global Presenting Sponsorship of Special Olympics Unified Sports® and a new, three-year global programming agreement.

ESPN grants support Special Olympics Unified Sports, as well as other initiatives, and extends and expands a role ESPN has held since 2013. Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Special Olympics Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. With support from ESPN and others, Special Olympics has grown this innovative and inclusive program to more than 1.6 million participants. As part of the continued support of Unified Sports, ESPN will invest in Special Olympics’ goal to build Unified Sports programming and resources in 10,000 schools by 2020 and ensuring 100,000 coaches receive new/renewed sports certifications by 2020.

ESPN previously served as the Official Broadcaster of the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria and 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.

ESPN employees have been engaged in volunteerism with Special Olympics for over 32 years. Over 500 ESPN and Disney employees volunteered at the USA Games in Seattle.

ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the power of sport to positively address society’s most pressing needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to www.espn.com/citizenship.



Paul Melvin [email protected] or +1 860 766 5069
Olivia Wilson [email protected] or +1 904 303 3538
Teri Couch [email protected] or +1 860 766 4696



Teri Couch

I oversee our company archives and manage our media website (ESPN Press Room). I also help out with PR efforts around our partnership with Special Olympics.
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