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“The news came as a complete surprise!”

A young man in a green t-shirt holds a gold medal between his teeth.
Gilmour Borg with a gold medal at the Special Olympics Malta Invitational Games 2022. Credit: Special Olympics International.

As Gilmour Borg and his fellow nine new Sargent Shriver Global Messengers take part in a week of training in Washington, DC, we take the opportunity to get to know Gilmour a little better with a one-to-one interview. 

In January 2024, it was announced that Gilmour Borg, from Special Olympics Malta, was to become one of 10 Sargent Shriver Global Messengers (SSGMs) for the period 2024 to 2027. He joins Margaret Turley from Special Olympics Ireland as one of two messengers representing the Europe Eurasia region. SSGM is a prestigious and coveted spokesperson role which will see Gilmour, Margaret and the eight other messengers representing the Special Olympics movement and their fellow athletes to the world. Before Gilmour took off for the USA, he took the time to answer some questions about his journey so far and his hopes for this new role and adventure!

How did you discover the exciting news that you were one of the new SSGMs?

The news came as a complete surprise during one of our meetings with the Special Olympics Malta Athlete Leadership Committee, an annual meeting where we come together to inform fellow athletes and families about our year’s accomplishments.

During the event, an announcement was made by Tim Shriver, and to my astonishment, I understood that I was one of the selected individuals! The realisation that I would be serving as a Sargent Shriver Global Messenger brought rush of excitement for the journey ahead. It was truly an unforgettable moment that I will cherish.

What part of the role of SSGM are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward for the opportunity to connect with people from different backgrounds from all around the world. I am looking forward to sharing my personal experience and spreading awareness about inclusion. I want to actively promote inclusion and put it into action… Making inclusion a tangible reality rather than just a concept is indeed a rewarding aspect of any role. We need to apply and incorporate these principles into our everyday work life.

It is now ten years since you joined Special Olympics Malta, how has Special Olympics impacted your life?

Joining Special Olympics was the beginning of a new journey in my life which brought new hope and opened new doors for me.

Special Olympics transformed my life—from feeling isolated and bullied, to finding a supportive team where I was respected, included, and heard. This has also been a journey of growth for me.

Special Olympics provided me with a sense of belonging and purpose, helping me overcome my challenges and discover my strengths. I gained confidence, self-awareness, and resilience. I was able to face setbacks with courage and determination.

A group of 10 young people stand together all lined up against a Special Olympics-branded wall and wearing purple Special Olympics t-shirts.
Gilmour Borg and the 2024 to 2027 cohort of Sargent Shriver Global Messengers at the Special Olympics Headquarters in Washington D.C. Credit: Special Olympics International.

What was your greatest moment in Special Olympics so far?

That’s a very tough question because Special Olympics has given me so many opportunities.

I had many remarkable moments being able to compete and winning medals, showing my abilities, and being an advocate for Special Olympics which are always a highlight of my journey.

But being invited to deliver a speech at prestigious events—such as the Golisano Award Ceremony held in New York in 2022 and the European Union’s conference on World Mental Health held in Brussels in 2023—stand over as the greatest moments for me.

You have spoken before about how bullying affected you when you were younger, what would your message be to any young person who is currently suffering from bullying?

I know the pain. I know the feeling of being targeted, and ridiculed. I know how it feels to feel worthless. I know the feeling and sense that the world is against you. I have walked in those shoes and understand the feeling.

To those who are currently facing bullying, I want you to know that you are not alone, and you are worthy of respect and kindness. You are strong and capable of rising above this cruelty.

Bullying is never okay—you are worth much more than these bullies. There is hope. There are people who want to help you, care for you, and support you through this. Don’t suffer in silence.

Bullying can be incredibly painful and have hasting effect through your life. Please reach out for support. Talk to someone you trust. You deserve to be heard, understood, and supported.

Remember bullying is not your fault. No one deserves this. You deserve love and respect. Believe in yourself and know that brighter days lie ahead.

A man stands in blue jumper and trousers with a lanyard around his neck in front of a Special Olympics branded wall.
Gilmour Borg at Special Olympics Headquarters in Washington D.C. Credit: Special Olympics International

You are President of SO Malta Athlete Leadership Council, a Health Messenger and an SSGM, do you enjoy being busy and taking on new challenges?

All these roles have been built in the last five years and I could see some changes in promoting inclusion, empowerment, and acceptance—but I cannot stop here. There is still more work that needs to be done. There is always more that can be accomplished, whether it’s for better resources or public awareness. I am committed to continue this important journey and taking new challenges towards a meaningful and effective change.

Do you have any role models?

For me the role models in my life are all the people who made an impact in my life, who believed in me and made me the Gilmour you see today—my family, Anna Calleja (Special Olympics Malta National Director).

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