SPECIAL Olympic golfer Munyaradzi Musariri had a once in a lifetime opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best golfers when he participated as part of a unified team during the Pro-Am activities on Wednesday ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships presented by EGA, which teed off at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Thursday.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Special Olympic gold medallist was invited by the organisers to take part at the event and is the only other Zimbabwean taking part, alongside rising star Scott Vincent who is playing in the tournament proper.
Musariri was paired with Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, winner of the European Tour event in 2014 and had opportunities to mingle on the course with other golfing superstars like world’s number one Dustin Johnson, four-time Major winner Rory Mcilroy, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson who are part of the supertars taking part at the tournament.
A decorated Special Olympics athlete, he added playing in a Pro-Am to his roster of accolades this week, which includes winning gold at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2015, Zimbabwe’s National Games in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012, Sportsman of the Year with a Disability at the annual National Sports Awards 2016 and Best Player at the Asia Pacific Golf Masters in Macau 2016.
Commented on his experience of playing with Larrazabal, he said: “I became involved in Special Olympics through school and was picked by coaches to play golf, the sport has helped me so much in my life. It was good to play with a professional like Pablo, I would love to play with him another time.”
Larrazabal said: “I had a great game with Munya. It’s great to meet people who are pushing hard and trying every day to be better at our sport. Golf is a very fun and unique game, it takes a lot of abilities to play, but is great for everyone. It is probably the only game that exists where you never lose, you always finish in a position, so it is a great for young people and athletes with intellectual disabilities to get involved in.”
The unified team is a part of ongoing efforts of the Local Organising Committee of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi to educate the public about the largest humanitarian sporting event in the world heading to Abu Dhabi in 2019.
Special Olympics is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and allows athletes with intellectual disabilities to train, take part and compete in a variety of sports.
Special Olympics national director Viola Musariri, who accompanied Munyaradzi to Dubai, is thankful for the opportunity. “We are really excited to have been given this opportunity to have one of our athletes participating at such a high level tournament. It was an exciting day, to just follow them throughout the course. Munyaradzi was getting some very important tips on golf. Just experiencing the ambience here and interacting, getting autographs with top golfers, is something we really appreciate. What an honour really for the Special Olympics, we are truly thankful.”