LISBON, July 28, 2017 - A Special Olypmics athlete has been chosen to become an ambassador with the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA). The appointment as a ‘SIGA Champion’ marks the first time an athlete with intellectual disabilities has been enaged in such a high profile ambassadorial capacity outside of the Special Olympics movement.
Gilmour Borg, age 16, from St. Paul’s Bay, Malta takes up the role following an official ceremony at the second edition of the SIGA Sport Integrity Forum in Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday July 26th. The forum brought together more than 100 leaders from the world of sport, government, finance, business and civil society to address the most pressing goverance and integrity issues facing the sports industry.
As part of his new role, Borg, who has won multiple medals in athletics, signed an official SIGA ‘pledge’ and committed to support SIGA’s vision and global mission of promoting and preserving the integrity of sport, as well as raising awareness about the role that athletes with intellectual disability can play in promoting a positive sports industry centered on inclusion and acceptance.
Borg spoke at an official reception that also unveiled Portuguese Olympic hero Rosa Mota as another SIGA Champion. Marathon runner Mota was the first Portuguese woman to win Olympic gold. She will serve as ‘team captain’ to SIGA Global Ambassadors. SIGA plans to involve more Special Olympics athletes in ambassadorial ‘Champion’ roles around the world.
Speaking at the launch of the new SIGA Champions, Borg explained why sport, and in particular Special Olympics, is so important to his life. “Special Olympics is my second family. It’s my second life. Before joining, I was bullied at school, other students looked at me differently, and I was angry and used to take all of my anger out at home.
“No one could control me. I hated myself. This was my life until my parents met with some people from Special Olympics Malta. They showed my parents the Special Olympics Athletes Programme. Special Olympics made me the person I am today. Special Olympics made me feel accepted.”
In front of a large audience, Borg also thanked SIGA for the opportunity the Global Ambassador role offers. “An important message to pass on is that sport helps you improve your strengths and skills. It gives a positive behaviour that helps you feel proud and want to achieve more. SIGA’s support will give us more independence to live a life that is free from discriminations. Through them, we will be able to voice our stories.”
Commenting on the appointment, David Evangelista, President & Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, said: “Special Olympics is honoured to have Gilmour Borg serve as one of SIGA’s first Champions. Representing some five million athletes with intellectual disabilities, Gilmour’s message and example embodies the transformative power that sport has to create sustained positive change in the world today. Special Olympics looks forward to its continued collaboration with SIGA in elevating the voice of athletes with intellectual disabilities as part of a shared commitment to see sport be at the service of all who seek its strong benefits.”The SIGA Council commented: “We are delighted to welcome Special Olympics athlete Gilmour Borg as one of the first SIGA Champions. It is crucial to have athletes on board with our mission to drive good governance and help safeguard integrity in sport. Special Olympics embodies the transformative power of sport and the movement’s athletes rightly inspire us in their pursuit of inclusion and acceptance for all. Athletes are sport’s main appeal to fans, so it is vital for SIGA to demonstrate that they are at the heart of everything that we do, and that there is a cohesive effort to re-instil fans’ trust in what they are watching.”