Our Athletes

How Africa's Athlete Official Was Part of a Record

Special Olympics Africa sent the only athlete official to the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria, Nhlanhla “Jimmy” Masina. Jimmy is qualified at the highest level as both a Football and Floor Hockey officiate for Special Olympics, and this is his fifth World Games after Idaho in 2009, Athens in 2011, Pyeongchang in 2013 and Los Angeles in 2015.

However, there was a first even for him at the Floor Hockey finals match between Iran and Bangladesh, which broke the Special Olympics Floor Hockey record for the longest match ever.

The grueling 3-hour match, the equivalent of 2.5 games, saw two physical sides stuck in a 0-0 deadlock for the gold. Refusing to quit, eventually a draw had to be declared by the officiates for safety. Bangladesh was one of only two all-women teams competing at this year’s Games.

In Jimmy's words, "My biggest memory is the commitment and attention of the athletes, the coaches too. No one wanted to quit, they wanted to go to the end and see what happens!"

Jimmy’s partner officiate, Ted Podelnyk, had to commend Jimmy: “You and I can say we officiated the longest game in Special Olympics Floor Hockey history! You did a terrific job.”