Heroes return as South Ayrshire Special Olympians celebrate success
Five Special Olympians have been welcomed home to South Ayrshire after recording some of their best ever performances at the UK games in Sheffield. The athletes, who were competing in the Swimming and Tennis events, won three Gold, three Silver, and two Bronze medals between them.
The Special Olympics GB National Games took place in Sheffield between 7 and 12 August, 2017. The West of Scotland Squad included five people from South Ayrshire. In Tennis, Jack Dickson and Frances Smilie won singles Gold medals, and a third Gold playing together in the mixed pairs. In Swimming, Cerys McCrindle won Silver for the 50m freestyle and backstroke events, recording her personal bests for both races; Fiona Dawson won Bronze in the 100m freestyle and backstroke races, while Laura Logan put in a strong performance to finish in 5th place for the 50m freestyle and backstroke disciplines. Councillor Brian McGinley, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure said the athletes had enjoyed a memorable games, “I’m proud to welcome the team back to South Ayrshire after putting in such a tremendous effort in Sheffield. “With all five athletes training at the Citadel and in Prestwick, it’s satisfying to see that the local members of the West of Scotland team put in such strong performances with an impressive haul of medals and improved times the reward for so much hard work. “Now that the UK heats are over the hard work continues, and I’d like to wish the athletes continued success as they start to prepare for the European Games in Paris later this year.” Cerys McCrindle said that she had a very special motivation for pushing herself to the limits, “I won the medal for my Grandpa who recently passed away and I was so happy winning. I was especially pleased and proud for my family. “I’ve been swimming for 12 years and started when I was just three years old as part of South Ayrshire’s Learn 2 Swim programme. “I train three times a week, two sessions in the water and in the gym once a week as part of my Sports Development Talented Athlete Membership. “I’m going to be working hard to become a swimming teacher in the future. Right now, I’ve been selected to be part of the Great Britain Squad competing in Paris, and then the Down Syndrome World Swimming Championships in Canada in July 2018." Jack Dickson said that competing at Sheffield had been a fantastic experience, “It was an amazing feeling. I was nervous before the games but the support of my family watching me in the crowd really helped. “I’ve only been playing tennis for about four years, training twice a week at Prestwick Tennis Centre and in Scotstoun. “But the hard work never stops and I’m training for the Regional Tennis Tournament in the Gorbals Tennis Centre in Glasgow in September, and then the National Championships which will be held in Nottingham in October.” A programme of support to maximise access to sport for people living with disabilities was introduced in 1999, in partnership with South Ayrshire Access to Sport. A full range of activities are currently available at South Ayrshire's leisure and activity centres, including blind sailing, swimming, wheelchair tennis, running, and powerchair football.