Norfolk stars rewarded for their efforts at national games in Sheffield
- Credit: Archant
Special Olympics Norfolk (SON) athletes are celebrating a 35-medal haul after a highly successful week of competition in the National Games in Sheffield which attracted more than 2,600 competitors from all over Britain.
The county's 27-member squad brought back 10 gold, 13 silver and 12 bronze medals. They were competing as part of the Eastern Region team in the four-yearly competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
SON chair Nicola Fish said: 'Team SON did us proud, from the athletes trying their hardest and having the largest smiles all week to our wonderfully supportive families who spent the week cheering everyone on and the most dedicated, kind bunch of volunteers you could wish to spend time with.
'Everyone from SON has worked tremendously hard over the last two years in pulling together our squad, training them and raising the money to get everyone to the games. It was worth every minute and we can't wait until 2021 to take part in this amazing event again.'
Biggest individual medal tally was by gymnast Shane Baxter, 18, from Norwich, who won four individual golds along with a silver and bronze. He was also awarded overall gold as the top all-round male competitor in artistic gymnastics.
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SON's other gymnast, 15-year-old Evie Rodwell from Diss, also won a gold and three bronzes and received overall silver among female gymnasts. Both train with Long Stratton Gymnastics Club.
In track and field, Ricky Brown, 22, from Great Yarmouth took gold in the 100 metres and silver in mini javelin, an achievement matched by Bowthorpe's Sara Cottrell whose gold came in standing long jump and silver in softball throwing.
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Kevin Threadgold from Taverham exemplified the spirit of the games by being awarded the gold medal with an inspiring solo performance in a wheelchair race. After all the other participants pulled out, Kevin, 30, completed the course alone and his determination brought the stadium to its feet as everyone cheered him over the finish line. At the closing ceremony, Kevin – who also won silver in the mini javelin and bronze in softball throw – was presented with one of three special awards for sportsmanship.
Cameron Lain of Costessey won gold in standing long jump and bronze in the 100 metres, while there were silvers for Cameron Ross from South Wootton in long jump and Watton's Jamie Wells (softball throw). Cameron Ross also took bronze in the men's top division 4x100m relay on the final day.
Katherine Beaumont from Stoke Holy Cross took silver in the 200 metres and two bronzes (standing long jump and softball) and there was a softball silver for SON's oldest competitor, 55-year-old Stephen Eastaugh from Long Stratton.
Aquatics events saw gold go to Hempnall swimmer Sarah Zima in the 25 metres backstroke and silver and bronze for Keziah Baxter of Norwich (sister of gymnast Shane) in the 50 metres and 100 metres freestyle. Lydia Browne from Attleborough took silver in the 50 metres backstroke and there were two bronze medals for 15-year-old Jasmine Ray from Thorpe St Andrew (50 metres backstroke and freestyle).
Three members of SON's football squad, who have been in training at Carrow Road in preparation for the games, won silver after the Eastern Region team in which they were playing finished runners-up in a division of the football tournament. Others narrowly missed out on a medal after their side were beaten in the play-offs.
In boccia (a petanque-type game), Edith Kefford from Trowse won silver in the singles and there were bronzes for Norwich players Robin Tatton (singles) and Kirsty Storey (team event).
Full results for the National Games are on sheffield2017.org.uk/results. For information on SON at the games visit specialolympicsnorfolk.com.