Athletes from Team GB flew to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways today, ahead of the Special Olympics World Games (March 14-25).

The 128-strong British squad will be competing in 17 sports and were welcomed at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 this morning ahead of their flight.

Cyclist Kiera Byland said: “The focus of the team is to have an incredible experience and we are also looking forward to getting to know and experience the best of Abu Dhabi.”

James Harrison, UK and Ireland general manager for Etihad Airways – the official airline partner of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 – added: “We are delighted to be playing a part in supporting and celebrating athletes of determination, and to be showcasing Abu Dhabi as a forward-thinking and multicultural centre of tolerance, faith and inclusion.”

Michelle Carney, Special Olympics Great Britain’s chief executive, commented: “We are delighted to partner with Etihad in getting our whole GB squad to the World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.”

Taking place in the Middle East and North Africa region for the first time, this year’s Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are expected to attract up to 500,000 spectators and will be the largest global event ever to be held in the UAE.

More than 7,500 athletes from 190 nations will compete and Etihad Airways is flying more than 2,800 athletes, coaches, dignitaries, delegates and journalists to the event.

Pictured are cyclists Ella Curtis (centre) and Kiera Byland (second left) pictured with James Harrison (right) Michelle Carney (second right) and Etihad Airways cabin crew.