Slimmed-down Sam doing swimmingly
New options opening upTERRI RUSSELL
An Invercargill woman bullied every day for being obese has lost more than a third of her bodyweight and now competes in the Special Olympics.
Samantha Morton, 20, drank 2.25 litres of Coca-Cola every day for about five years, was borderline diabetic and could not walk further than her home gate.
Last year she weighed in at 164 kilograms and has since lost more than 60kg through Weight Watchers.
"I just got picked on every day.
"Now I feel really good - I have heaps of new friends now," she said yesterday.
"I've been able to join different things out of school without being judged because of my weight."
As a child, Miss Morton, who has learning difficulties, had several operations to treat clubfoot, which made it hard to keep the weight off, she said.
She decided to lose weight after her father said he was concerned about her health.
Now Miss Morton, who used to be "ashamed" to swim, competes in the Special Olympics in swimming and indoor bowls.
She can walk from her Newfield home to the city centre and swims about 500 metres every day.
"It's got to be your decision, at the end of the day. Just make sure you have the loving support of family and friends.
"It's good because I'll still be alive for my 21st," she said.
Miss Morton now weighs 103kg and aims to reach 75kg by next year.
Mum Marie Morton said doctors and specialists had been worried about Miss Morton's health since she was about 13 years old.
Her daughter was bullied at Southland Girls' High School before changing to Ruru School, which was "quite dramatic", she said.
"It's just a big relief off my mind and we are so proud of her.
"She's achieved so much. She's a real inspiration."
Southland Girls' High School principal Yvonne Browning could not be reached for comment late yesterday afternoon.
Special Olympics Southland co-ordinator Alison Saunders said the weight loss meant Miss Morton had more sporting opportunities ahead.
"We will travel Sam overseas now, whereas before we wouldn't," she said.
"We don't need to worry about her, her shortness of breath."
Miss Morton will compete in indoor bowls at the Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games 2013 in Dunedin in November.
Number 10 Southland Youth One Stop Shop interim manager Jude Crump said some young people struggling at school or in relationships went to Number 10 for help.
In conversation, some mentioned they had been bullied at school, with the majority of those bullied being girls, she said.
Victims of bullying were encouraged to talk to a teacher at their school in the first instance, she said.
For help: Call Youthline Southland on (03) 211 0031, or Number 10 on (03) 214 1013.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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