Hills Special Olympians did their State and the Hills club proud at the recent SO Nationals in Adelaide.
Our eight attending athletes returned home with 19 medals – six more than at the last Nationals held in Melbourne in 2014. Underpinning these results was gymnast Nicholas Zrnic ,25, who picked up seven medals, five more than in Melbourne. It was a sensational result by any yardstick. The events he medalled in were: silver for high bar and floor; bronze for pommel, parallel bars, rings and vault. He finished third in the overall competition.
Hills swimmers, who train at Oakhill College, Castle Hill, also did exceptionally well, with Lauren Heggie picking up a first place in her pet event, the 50m breaststroke, and second in the 50m freestyle, and Kayla van Zeeland first in the 50m backstroke and third in both the 50m freestyle and the 50m freestyle relay.
Corey Atkinson helped capture bronze for the NSW team in the 4x100m freestyle.
Mitchell Duncan – unquestionably the tallest athlete in the Hills SO squad at 1.95m – and his NSW team picked up silver after a hard-fought series of games. Mitchell has gone up two grades to B Grade since Melbourne but still bettered the bronze he won there.
Anyone who has watched Phillip Nicholson play soccer at home would have been captivated by his mastery of the ball, and he certainly didn’t disappoint, helping his NSW division B5 team win all four of its games and the gold medal. It was, as dad Greg said, “a big effort.”
The Walford brothers, Shawn and Shannon, each brought home two medals – Shawn a silver for doubles and singles, and Shannon a silver in doubles and a bronze in singles. They have been playing tennis for the past 30 years.
The Nationals Games, held every four years, give athletes with an intellectual disability the chance to compete at an elite level in their chosen sports. Our local Special Olympians are dedicated elite athletes, training up to four nights a week in the lead-up to the games.