A young man wearing a green shirt and holding a gold medal between his teeth.

Gilmore Borg with a gold medal at the Special Olympics Malta 2022 Invitational Games. Source: Special Olympics International.

As Gilmore Borg and his nine new fellow Sargent Shriver Global Messengers participate in a week of training in Washington, D.C., we take the opportunity to get to know Gilmore a little better through a one-on-one interview.

In January 2024, this was announced Gilmore Borgfrom Special Olympics Maltawas scheduled to become one of 10 Sargent Shriver Russell International (SSGMs) for the period from 2024 to 2027. Joins Margaret Turley from Special Olympics Ireland As one of two apostles who represent Europe and Eurasia region. The SSGM serves as the prestigious and sought-after spokesperson that will bring Gilmore, Margaret and the other eight delegates representing the Special Olympics movement and their fellow athletes to the world. Before Gilmour travels to the USA, he took the time to answer some questions about his journey so far and his hopes for this new role and new adventure!

How did you find out the exciting news that you are 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 our fellow athletes and their families of our achievements for the year.

During the event, Tim Shriver made an announcement, and to my surprise I realized that I was one of the chosen individuals! The realization that I would serve as Sargent Shriver’s global messenger created a rush for the journey ahead. It was truly an unforgettable moment that I will cherish.

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

I look forward to the opportunity to connect with people from different backgrounds from all over the world. I look forward to sharing my personal experience and spreading awareness about inclusion. I want to actively encourage inclusion and put it into practice… Making inclusion a tangible reality and not just a concept is actually a rewarding aspect of any role. We need to apply these principles and integrate them into our daily working lives.

It has now been 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 that brought me new hope and opened new doors.

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

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

A group of 10 young men stand together, lined up in front of a Special Olympics branded wall, wearing purple Special Olympics T-shirts.

Gilmore Borg and the 2024 to 2027 cohort of Sargent Shriver Global Messengers at Special Olympics headquarters in Washington, D.C. Source: Special Olympics International.

Photography by S. Byrne

What has been your greatest Special Olympics moment so far?

This is a very difficult question because Special Olympics has given me so many opportunities.

I have had so many amazing moments being able to compete, win medals, showcase my abilities, and being a Special Olympics supporter is always one of the highlights of my journey.

But being invited to speak at prestigious events – such as the Golisano Awards held in New York in 2022 and the European Union Conference on Global Mental Health held in Brussels in 2023 – are my greatest moments.

You’ve spoken before about how bullying affected you when you were younger. What is your message to any young person currently experiencing bullying?

I know the pain. I know what it feels like to be targeted and ridiculed. I know what it’s like to feel worthless. I know the feeling and feeling that the world is against you. I’ve walked in those shoes and I understand that feeling.

To those currently facing bullying, I want you to know that you are not alone, and that you deserve respect and kindness. You are strong and able to rise above this cruelty.

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

Bullying can be incredibly painful and have a rapid impact throughout your life. Please reach out for support. Talk to someone you trust. You deserve to be heard, understood and supported.

Remember that bullying is not your fault. Nobody deserves this. you deserve love and respect. Believe in yourself and know that brighter days lie ahead.

A man stands wearing a blue jacket, pants and a rope around his neck in front of a wall bearing Special Olympics branding.

Gilmore Borg at Special Olympics headquarters in Washington, D.C. Source: Special Olympics International

You are the Chairman of the SO Malta Athlete Leadership Council, Health Messenger and SSGM, do you enjoy keeping busy and taking on new challenges?

All of these roles have been built in the last five years, and I can see some changes in promoting inclusion, empowerment and acceptance – but I can’t stop here. There is still more work to be done. There is always more that can be done, whether it is to improve resources or public awareness. I am committed to continuing this important journey and facing new challenges towards meaningful and effective change.

Do you have any role models?

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


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