VALLETTA, December 14, 2017 - A Special Olympics athlete, chosen to become an ambassador with the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA), has signed the organisation’s official pledge at an event in Valletta, Malta. The appointment of 17-year-old Special Olympics Malta athlete Gilmour Borg as a ‘SIGA Champion’ marks one of the first times an athlete with intellectual disabilities has been engaged in such a high profile ambassadorial capacity outside of the Special Olympics movement.
As part of the role, Borg from St. Paul’s Bay, Malta has committed to supporting 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 will participate at official SIGA events across Europe in 2018 as part of the SIGA Champion role. SIGA has also committed to appointing more Special Olympics athletes to the Champion role in the coming months in a further show of support and cooperation between the two organisations.
The official signing of the SIGA Pledge took place at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta, Malta, which houses the offices of the Prime Minister of Malta, Mr Joseph Muscat. The event was attended by President of Special Olympics Malta, Mrs Michelle Muscat, Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for Youths, Sports and Voluntary Organisation, Dr Clifton Grima, SIGA coordinator Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, and Maureen Clarke of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia.Describing the appointment of an athlete from Special Olympics Malta as a SIGA Champion as an “honour”, Mrs Muscat said Mr Borg was representing some five
million Special Olympics around the world and showcasing the talents of all athletes with intellectual disabilities.
“Special Olympics Malta is honoured to have Gilmour Borg serve as one of SIGA’s first Champions. Gilmour’s message and example embody the transformative power that sport has to create positive change in the world today. As the first SIGA Champion, Gilmour has been given the important role of representing some five million athletes around the world. We are all tremendously proud of Gilmour and the important work he has done to date. Special Olympics Malta looks forward to working with SIGA in promoting the voices of athletes with intellectual disabilities.”
Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for Youths, Sports and Voluntary Organisation, Dr Clifton Grima also congratulated Mr Borg on his new appointment, stating that he is an example not just for Maltese youths but for all the country. “An important message to pass on is that sport helps you improve your strengths and skills. It provides stamina and a positive feel-good factor that helps in everyday life. SIGA’s support will give Gilmour the opportunity to develop independent living free from discrimination. Through them, Special Olympic athletes will be able to voice their stories.”
Borg was first announced to the role an official ceremony at the second edition of the SIGA Sport Integrity Forum in Lisbon, Portugal in July. Since then the teenager has been busy promoting both Special Olympics and SIGA as part of his new role as a TV presenter with Maltese station One TV. The programme sees Mr Borg interview and profile athletes of all different abilities and promoting the need for sports for all citizens, in particular, the marginalised.
Speaking about his role as a SIGA Champion, Mr Borg explained that sport, and in particular Special Olympics, has played an important role in his life. “Before joining Special Olympics 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. Then I joined Special Olympics Malta and started to feel accepted.
“An important message for me 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. As a SIGA Champion I want to give a voice to all athletes, no matter the differences and this helps to promote inclusion and build a life and world that is free from discriminations.”
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. 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.”
SIGA coordinator Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros commented: “We are delighted to welcome Special Olympics athlete Gilmour Borg to sign the SIGA Champions pledge. Gilmour is a SIGA Champion- one of the first. He is a crucial part of SIGA’s drive to inspire youth and encourage more athletes to support our mission. It is important to have athletes on board as part of a collective drive for good governance and to help safeguard integrity in sport. 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 restore fans’ trust in what they are watching. Special Olympics plays an outstanding role and, on behalf of SIGA, I want to thank them for being at the forefront of our cause."