Two Cornish students are celebrating a fantastic Special Olympics having competed in the swimming pool and on the basketball court.
Pascal Latham and Jed Tinney earned their places in the national championship to compete, Pascal in four swimming events and Jed as part of the Basketball team the Cornwall Wildcats.
The Special Olympics GB National Games took place across multiple venues in Sheffield and Pascal, who has a very rare disability called Shprintzen Syndrome affecting her both physically and mentally, saved her best for last when, with her team mates, she achieved a silver medal.
Chris Latham, South West Assistant Head Coach and Pascal’s Mum, said the week with the athletes was “great fun”.
“Watching these guys giving all they had in their swims and then some was truly inspirational and I came home feeling very proud of the South West team,” Chris said.
“My life has truly been enriched by being a part of the week’s games and I would jump at the chance to go along again in another four years.”
Pascal, a student at Cornwall College, said the experience was “exciting”, but that she was “nervous at the same time”.
“There were lots of people there, it was quite scary, but mum was really proud of me,” she continued.
“I remember jumping off the block at the start and then time going really slowly. When I found out I had come second I was really happy. The week was good and we went to the athlete’s village and there was a disco, the night out was my favourite part.”
Fellow Cornwall College student Jed and the Cornwall Wildcats secured fourth place, and “being on the court” was his favourite part of the week.
Having only started playing basketball two years ago, Jed took to the sport straight away, according to his father Richard Tinney.
Richard revealed that players of all abilities are allowed to play, with some being more able than others.
“It is always a fun evening to watch them train and play, it is a very friendly atmosphere and newcomers are always made welcome and made to feel part of the group and not an outsider,” he added.
“It is commented on by all parents and support workers how the players develop in confidence over time, not just in their playing skills but their interaction with each other. This is due to the way Steve, the coach, runs the group and the ethos that runs through it which is to respect and support each other.”
Founded in the 1960’s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver (sister to America President JFK), the Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and the official ‘Third Branch’ of the Olympics (the second being the Paralympics).
The National Games was attended by over 2,600 athletes making it the largest multi-sports event for athletes with intellectual disabilities in the country.
For more information on the range of courses available through Cornwall College visit www.cornwall.ac.uk or call 0330 123 2523.