It’s been a long two years for Special Olympics athletes as they sat and waited for a return to play.

“It’s just a special moment to be not playing with your own team but against somebody else,” says Rahim Jamani, a long-time St. Thomas Special Olympian

The St. Thomas Swish were hosting London Basketball Saturday at St. Joseph’s High School in St. Thomas, Ont.

The day which consisted of a skills session, three short games and prize games were part of the first competitive action in the province since the start of the pandemic.London Basketball Special Olympians watch their teammates play St. Thomas in a game Saturday April 23, 2022.

“We haven’t had competitions in two years,” says Jeff Charlesworth, program consultant with Special Olympics Ontario.

“Today was the first day we were allowed to have competitions, and St. Thomas said ‘Let’s have a basketball tournament on the first day’”.

Jamani spoke passionately about what this day meant to him.Rahim Jamani from the St. Thomas Swish Special Olympics basketball team makes a layup during a game against London Basketball on Saturday April 23, 2022. (Brent Lale / CTV London)

“After two long years we felt real bad after not going to provincials because they got cancelled,” says Jamani.

“Not knowing if we were ever going to be playing again, not knowing if we ever going to compete on the court again because of all the restrictions, but thank God, they put this together.”

Jamani added it was great to compete against fellow athletes but the main part of Saturday’s mini-tournament was to have fun.

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