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Tarawali shines through in a special way
Keisha Hill, Staff Reporter
There is something extra special about this young man. His warm and gentle nature eliminates the fact that he is intellectually challenged.
Twenty-two-year-old Matthew Tarawali does not view himself as a victim of circumstance, but performs his best in the pursuit of excellence.
Using the universally understood language of sports and competition, Tarawali demonstrated courage and determination that earned him the title of Most Improved Athlete, at the staging of Special Olympics Jamaica 26th annual National Summer Games.
"I feel excited," Tarawali said. "I have a love for Special Olympics and my coaches help me to do well."
Tarawali, who is diagnosed with slight downs syndrome and classified as a slow learner, was also a member of the gold medal roller skating team that participated at the Winter Olympics in Boise, Idaho, in February.
Sandra Elliott, one of the coaches who received an award for Coach of the Year, who accompanied Tarawali and the others to Idaho, said although he functions at a low level, he is always willing to try and go the extra mile.
"I think we worked extremely hard and the team did very well," Elliott said. "I have a love for Special Olympics. The children inspire you and I like the joy of seeing them succeed," she said.
Matthew Tarawali Snr describeshis son as a go-getter and said his family, friends and teachers are all proud of him.
"Matthew is a lovable son. He is wonderful and he never gives up. He is always trying to achieve and he has made us really proud of him," Tarawali Sr said.
Tarawali, a native of the West African country of Sierra Leone, has been in Jamaica for the past 14 years.
Prior to coming to Jamaica, he attended regular school as special schools were not available in Sierra Leone.
The budding athlete attends the Genesis Academy and mathematics is his favourite subject.
"He has a very retentive memory and is very interested in reading," his father said. "All his social skills are perfect and he doesn't feel as if he is challenged."
Tarawali's has his heart set on competing at the Special Olympics World Summer Games that will take place in Athens, Greece, in 2011.
According to his father and coach, he is training assiduously and is determined to make the team.
"Matthew is a lovable son. He is wonderful and he never gives up.