Eike Shroeder won a gold medal for Luxembourg. / © Princess Tessy
In this continuing series of RTL Today exclusives, Princess Tessy reports on the second day of the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi — and our first gold medal!
Princess Tessy in Abu Dhabi
Princess Tessy and Prince Paul-Louis de Nassau are currently in Abu Dhabi for the Special Olympics. The latter is the world's largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. The games in the United Arab Emirates will last from 14 to 21 March.
On the second day of the games, Princess Tessy reports from a windy Abu Dhabi where Luxembourgish athletes competed in a semi-marathon, in a race that was also open to residents and recreational runners who wanted to join the Olympians. Perhaps most importantly, however, Princess Tessy and the athletes got to celebrate Luxembourg's first gold medal.
Day 2 - First gold medal
The sun is rising over the desert of Abu Dhabi. Our Athletes are ready and excited for the upcoming challenge — a Semi Marathon (21 km) on the Island of Al Hudayriat — where the government has created an island of public recreational beaches.
The run starts right before sunrise at 6.30am local time, and our two runners placed in the fastest group right at the head of the pack are ready to take off.
It is very windy and even a bit chilly.
After their takeoff the Luxembourg support team walks their own marathon to meet and support them at the half-way point. No coffee anywhere, but a seriously loud rock band amps up the energy levels. Truly a different cultural experience for all of us.
After 45 minutes we meet the first runner on the track, Eike Shroeder, who is as fast as the wind and in incredible form. I am very impressed. Not all runners are looking that fresh anymore and one runner (not from the special Olympics but a recreational runner) has even decided to run the track the wrong way.
Fifteen minutes later we meet the second athlete, Ronny Kontz.
He too is in good spirit. To be honest, I personally was struggling with the brutal wind. I cannot imagine how our athletes must have felt. It’s truly admirable.
The finishing line is approaching, with apples and medals on the ready for the winners. Here he comes - Eike - with an impressive time of 1h 30 min and 19 seconds (his record time is 1h 24min) hands high in the air. Emotions are strong. What an experience this must be for him. Minister Kersch and H.E the Ambassador of Luxembourg are also standing on the finish line and cheering for the winners (in my opinion everyone is a winner). Great time! Well done. Verdict of the morning — gold medal for Eike! Our first gold in these special Olympics and an impressive and equally amazing bronze medal for Ronny.
After that I needed to go to the hotel to work a bit — and take a nap, LOL! Refreshed and ready I was sitting with the whole crew of Luxembourgers including families, supporters, others athletes and coaches to cheer on the Luxembourg football team.
The weather by now has reached Abu Dhabi standards with a current temperature of 31 degrees Celsius, which locals call spring weather.
The Luxembourg football players are ready for action. The game starts with a big cheer and loads of anticipation.
The families are screaming (literally) their support towards their children. It was beautiful and funny because it reminded me of my dad when we go and watch football at home. It was a truthfully authentic Luxembourgish experience here in Abu Dhabi. We loved it. The Minister and I had a great time cheering on our players.
After a few missed opportunities we sadly lost this match against Papua New Guinea. The players were a little sad. However, they comforted themselves with the thought of the match against Hong Kong tomorrow.
What I personally love about the Luxembourg athletes is that no matter what, they are always in a good spirit and hopeful — a true testimony of their sportsmanship.
After the obligatory group picture I also spoke to the basketball team members who had just arrived at the end of the match. Alex has kindly summed up their match and key takeaways in a little video you can see below.
I truly love my time here with the Luxembourg special Olympics team and am excited for tomorrow, when I will attend the football at 12 pm local time and the basketball at 5 pm local time.
The athletes now have free time to enjoy themselves and have a good cold beer. Sadly, Ronny the basketball trainer just told me that all the players in the Special Olympics are not allowed to go swimming — not in the sea nor the pool — because of an incident of an athlete from another country three days ago. They made the rule for all to avoid any accidents.
Roude Leiw Huel Se
Marc Feltgen, Head of Delegation and Frank Schintgen, Assistant Head of Delegation
Eike Schroeder (gold medal) , Ronny Kontz (bronze medal)
Trainer: Pierrot Feltgen, Roland Leider
Marco Cesar Dos Santos, Francois Berg, Joe Weiss, Faisal Ansari, Gil Dos Santos Rascao , Dino da Costa, Kevin Hermann, Kevin Prommenschenkel, Joaquin Carvalho, Anthony Marin
Coaches: Luc Melchior, Dan Werecki, Armand Zarotti
Princess Tessy is not a professional journalist and writes these post to show her support and appreciation for the Luxembourg Special Olympics Team.