Swimmer swaps crocodile infested waters for Olympian gold

By Angel Chan

DUBAI 16 March 2019: From learning how to swim in a river filled with crocodiles to winning a gold medal at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, Yuliana Mora has come a very long way.

The 15-year-old Special Olympics athlete from Costa Rica won gold in the 400 metres swimming competition held at Dubai’s Hamdan Sports Complex on Friday.

World Games Abu Dhabi Special Correspondents Brendyn Monsorate, Bilal Hafeez and Christopher Swaminathan – popularly known as the ‘BBC’ by their initials – spoke to the teenager and an official from the Costa Rica Special Olympics Team to discover her amazing story.

“There is no swimming pool where she lives,” said the official. “She trained in a river close to her house. Her parents helped her as there are crocodiles in it.

“First her parents would get into the river and check if there are crocodiles and only after all is clear they would let Yuliana in to do her training.”

The official added that Yuliana quickly stood out as one of the best Special Olympics athletes in Costa Rica after impressing national swimming coaches.

“Yuliana represented her province, Puntarenas, in the national Special Olympics games and came first in the swimming competition and that’s how she came to represent her country,” said the team official.

“She has been training for the past year in a swimming pool for this competition.”

After her stunning victory in Dubai, a tearful Yuliana dedicated her gold medal to her parents back home in Costa Rica