SIGA is building a network of highly influential current and former athletes to act as ambassadors for the organisation. Known as the “SIGA Champions”, our athlete ambassadors are crucial in helping generate awareness about SIGA and the role it is playing in safeguarding the integrity of sport. SIGA embraces and values the voice of athletes that have a huge role to play and embody the values SIGA advocates: fair play, honesty, team work and integrity.
The roles and responsibilities of the SIGA Champions include promoting SIGA at international sporting events through networking and speaker platforms, endorsing SIGA and sports integrity initiatives via the their social media platforms, and attending industry events on behalf of SIGA.
Rosa Maria Correia dos Santos Mota, born June 29, 1958, is a Portuguese former marathon runner, one of her country’s foremost athletes, being the first sportswoman from Portugal to win Olympic gold. Mota was the first woman to win multiple Olympic marathon medals as well as being the only woman to be the reigning European, World, and Olympic champion at the same time. On the 30th Anniversary Gala of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) she was distinguished as the greatest female marathon runner of all time.
Gilmour Borg is a 16 year old Special Olympics athlete. He specialises in Athletics and won 3 gold medals at the Special Olympics Malta National Games in 2016. He also competed in the Special Olympics Cyprus National Games in 2016 where he won 2 gold and 1 silver. He is currently training in the hope of being selected for the World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019. Since joining Special Olympics, Gilmour’s life has changed significantly, not only in Sport. He used to have low self-esteem, he struggled with communication and was bullied at school. Now Gilmour is a confident person who inspires other athletes and performs regular public speaking engagements. Gilmour was the main speaker at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics Malta Games in 2016 and he was a key note speaker at the European Youth Sports Forum in Malta in March 2017. He is a National Ambassador for Special Olympics Malta and has been involved in various Media Campaigns. Gilmour is also a Special Olympics Young Athletes coach. He recently attended an Athlete Leader Train-the-Trainer Health and Fitness Workshop in Graz during the Special Olympics World Winter Games. This will enable Gilmour to train his peer athletes to be Health and Fitness advocates. In Special Olympics Gilmour has found what he was looking for, a life of acceptance, understanding, love and unity. For him Special Olympics is part of his family and he is very proud to be a Special Olympics Athlete.
Kiera Byland is a Special Olympics athlete from the North West of England and her sports are cycling and swimming. Kiera has helped to create a pilot called “The Kiera Project”, to inspire other children and young people with an intellectual disability to never assume you can’t achieve, to always hold onto your dream and that it can come true. Kiera uses the motto “let me win but if I cannot win let me brave in the attempt” in every part of her life. While she struggles with writing, reading and maths, this does not stop her in anything she tries to do. She is a very inspirational person who likes to support other people. “I know what it’s like not to have friends, to feel left out and to not be picked to play sport. When at school I was never chosen for schools sports so I didn’t get chance to make friends, but Special Olympics changed my life. I have over 60 medals from cycling and swimming, I have won awards for my commitment and determination as an SO athlete. I am so much more now I have Special Olympics in my life. I have grown in confidence since competing at the 2015 SO World Games and I have made lots of lifelong friends. I am now a confident speaker and I can also bring a smile to everyone’s face. I’ve have been told that I am an inspiration to children, young people and adults. I’m not afraid to tell people about my own limitations in my learning and that this hasn’t stopped me from achieving my dream of becoming a triple gold medalist and becoming a qualified sports coach. I also want to do so much more, I want to raise more awareness of the Special Olympics and how it can change people’s lives. I want to share stories and make sure that the athletes have a voice, and that this voice isn’t only listened to, but is acted upon, to help make a global voice for Special Olympians”.
Lucy Meyer is passionate about helping children around the world with disabilities. Born with cerebral palsy, 18 year old Lucy is an active Special Olympics athlete and has won five gold medals for swimming. She is the spokesperson for a special partnership between Special Olympics and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and in this role helps to generate visibility and raise resources for programs that benefit children with disabilities around the world. Lucy first began her work with UNICEF in 2011, when she took part in the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF fundraising campaign. In January 2013 she created a fund to support children with disabilities in developing countries, and later that year she was named as the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Spokesperson for Children with Disabilities. Lucy served as a Global Messenger at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in her hometown of Los Angeles and she credits sports with playing a critical role in her development, helping her to learn important skills such as discipline, teamwork, and confidence. In her role as official spokesperson for the Special Olympics – U.S. Fund for UNICEF partnership she travels extensively and works hard to ensure her message is shared widely about the important work that UNICEF and Special Olympics do together around the world so that individuals with disabilities, like herself, can live safer, healthier lives.
Kester Edwards is a global Special Olympics leader. He started as a young Special Olympics athlete in Trinidad and Tobago and excelled as a swimmer before going on to become a coach with the national program. He has participated in numerous competitions and World Games. He is also a former member of the international Board of Directors of Special Olympics, he held a seat on the Special Olympics Sports Rules Committee and is currently a staff member at Special Olympics headquarters in Washington DC, as well as being a formidable sport development expert. Kester began his career with Special Olympics in Washington DC in 2000 focusing on links between sports and health. He is the founder of the open water swimming module - the fastest growing sports module in the Special Olympics program. Kester is a founding member of the Washington, DC Special Olympics Lions Club and recently received the Melvin Jones Fellowship distinction, recognising his many years of service to the world of Lionism, and Special Olympics. He is the first Special Olympics athlete ever in the history of Lions Clubs International to receive such a distinction. In 2004, Kester was photographed for Armani alongside sporting greats such as Serena Williams, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Ian Thorpe, Boris Becker, and Tiger Woods – the images were featured in the book “Facce da Sport” (Faces of Sport), a charity initiative to raise awareness and funds for the international movement of Special Olympics. Kester has traveled extensively all over the world promoting and spreading the ideals of the Special Olympics movement. Kester continues to support his community by way of a range of projects, and has most recently been identified by Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International as a key driver of the youth activation work underway with Leos throughout the world.
Miguel Ângelo Falcão de Oliveira (born January 4, 1995) is a Portuguese motorcycle racer currently in the Moto2 World Championship. He has gained extensive experience in Moto3, having competed for the Estrella Galicia 0,0 team in 2012, the Mahindra Racing team in 2013 and 2014 and finishing runner-up with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in 2015.
Oliveira’s father, a former motorcycle racer, always supported his son’s love of racing and gave him his first quad-bike when he was four years old. He started racing in the national championship at nine years old, in the Portuguese MiniGP Championship in 2004, winning the Young Promise of the Year award in Portugal. His first successes came in 2005 when he won the Portuguese MiniGP championship and Metrakit World Festival in Spain. In 2006, he repeated his earlier success and in 2007 he won the Mediterranean PreGP 125 Trophy. In 2009, he was third in the Spanish championship, and in 2010 battled Maverick Viñales for the title, eventually finishing runner-up by just two points and progressed to become the first full-time Portuguese rider to reach the world championship. At the 2015 Italian Grand Prix, Oliveira achieved the first World Championship victory for a Portuguese rider.
In 2017 he finished the Moto 2 World Championship in the third position with KTM Ajo adding three consecutive victories to his outstanding career.
Francisco, 20 years old. Head Coach, Assistant coach and Match analyst in several clubs like Sporting Clube de Linda, Grupo Desportivo Estoril Praia and Sociedade União 1º Dezembro. Two of these teams are in National Divisions and Francisco has been experiencing working with kids and with players older than him. In terms of leadership, Francisco thinks it is always a challenge when you are younger than the players.
Completed two internships in SL Benfica (U19 team). Several formations in Portugal and doing the UEFA courses in Great Britain. Speaker in private and public events in companies such as: Garrigues Lawyers, JonesLangLaSalle, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and Banco Popular.
Filippo Pieretto is a Special Olympics Athlete and is 25 years old. In 2015 he took part at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in LA and just few months before the journey, Fillippo had the amazing opportunity to speak, in representation of all Italian Delegations Athletes, in front of the Pope, during a private audience.
Sport, especially football, is not just only a big passion for Filippo but also it represents the opportunity to know the World: the sport as instrument to build new friendships and to promote socialisation, happiness and positive exchange of views.
Filippo is not only sport training and football tournament: he achieved hospitality training institute certification and internship, apprenticeships and than starting at work, as well.
Actually, he is working, as value, in an famous Hotel in Roma, in supporting at the patisserie area. All these steps are goals of a same developing training, through the sport in Special Olympics, by which Filippo grow up in self estimate and independence.
Majlinda Kelmendi is a judoka from Kosovo. She has been the world champion in 2013 and 2014, and olympic champion of 2016 in the -52 kilogram category. Kelmendi was born in the city of Peja, May 9, 1991.
The female judoka from the small Balkans state started her sport a couple of months before the Kosovo War of 1999 . “Since I was a kid I wanted to be successful, not famous, but successful. And while growing up, this desire, this dream became bigger and bigger. While playing judo, I just saw the different side of myself. I found out that through judo I could be somebody. Not because of being in the center of attention, but just by giving my best, my one hundred percent. Then I am OK.”