Athletes' medal haul
Years of training went into the National Summer Games for the Special Olympic athletes but it was all worth it for the glory of gold, silver and bronze.
The ten athletes were all successful in bringing home a medal, in some cases two or three.
"When they get a medal they are just thrilled to bits," Special Olympics South Canterbury chairman John Keenan said.
The athletes train hard for the games, which are held every four years, this year in Dunedin.
Ranging in age from 17 to 60, some are known to take their sports very seriously and have strong competitive spirits. But a big part of the Special Olympic events is the social side.
"I think there's a lot of anticipation in the lead-up to the games and it's a it of a thrill for them to get away from home. They get to stay by themselves without their normal caregivers and parents. It's a lot of fun.
"They also meet lots of other guys and catch up with some of the athletes they've met at different events."
The different sports which include bocce, swimming and athletics, are all run professionally in exactly the same way as they are for non-special Olympians.
On closing night they have a disco - with 1200 athletes in town from all over New Zealand it's a big social event.
"They have a great time. They enjoy themselves. Participation is the main thing but when they win it's an extra thrill for them."
Being involved year-round in Special Olympics gives them skills in many ways, Mr Keenan said.
Many of them don't have jobs, so their regular involvement gives them purpose, the opportunity to get out and achieve things outside their normal comfort zone.
Sport allows the athletes to achieve a fit and healthy lifestyle and integrates them alongside their more able-bodied peers. The whole community benefits by being of a richer blend.
The challenge for the small committee is the money and time involved in getting the athletes to the games. Special Olympics clubs
receive no government funding and most of the athletes are on a low income or disability benefit while some do not have direct family support.
It cost $550 for each athlete and the three coaches/support people to get to Dunedin and most of the money was raised through local sponsorship and grants.
The athletes now have another four years to prepare for the next national games in Wellington.
Bocce Team manager and coach, Vivian Leslie Team: Louise Boag, Jennifer Austin, Kaye McMurray & Julie Wale, silver (division 1); Doubles: Kaye McMurray & Julie Wale, gold (division 5); Jennifer Austin & Louise Boag, silver (division 5). Aquatics Coach, Tracey O'Connell August Landrebe: 50m backstroke, gold (01.11.22); 25m freestyle bronze (00.23.14; 50m freestyle, 6th (00.58.46). David Johnson: 15m floatation gold 00.38.70); 15m unassisted swim, gold (00.24.42); 25m freestyle, 4th (00.35.42) Matthew Keenan: 50m freestyle silver (01.17.3); 25m freestyle, 4th (00.33.62), 25m backstroke, DQ (00.42.19) Athletics Coach, Suzanne Churchward Caitlin Benson, 3kg woman's shot put, bronze (4.93m); 100m run, 6th (00.18.27); long jump, DQ, 3m; Mark Churchward; 100m run gold (00.15.14); 200m run bronze (00.37.52); 4kg men's shot put, gold (3.7m). Hamish Upston, 100m run, gold (00.17.80); long jump, bronze (1.26m); 4kg men's shot put, 5th (2.76m).
SOUTH CANTERBURY HERALD