Beautiful Stories from the Wonderful Games

23rd August 2017

The Incredible Ben O'Keefe

You may remember 11-year old Special Olympics athlete Ben O’Keefe from Norfolk. He is trained in gymnastics by Special Olympics Suffolk and he nearly broke the internet pre #Sheffield17 Special Olympics National Games with the huge amount of affection shown towards him from the British public.

You may also recall as a baby, Ben was born at just 28 weeks; suffered a brain hemorrhage; had damaged lungs; a deformed heart; and his family was told he would never walk or talk.

Well, nobody decided to tell Ben!

Last week he stood tall in Sheffield at the Special Olympics and he not only achieved great scores, he won three gold medals - for floor, rings and horizontal bar.

Then Ben picked up bronze on the vault, pommel and parallel bars!

He topped it all off by getting an overall gold for the highest scores in his division.

It was a fantastic week for Ben and for Special Olympics!

Well done Ben...for proving to the World that when people tell you that you cannot do something, it is not always the case!

We are proud of you, Ben!

Champions Special Olympics GB lads

Words and article by one of our stunning media volunteers, sensational Sarah-Louise Kelsey! A champion article for a set of champions Special Olympics GB lads!

After years of hard-work and dedication, Leslie Martin, Kyle Martin and Jordan Brace took home three gold medals between them.

The team were representing Yorkshire and Humberside in the Special Olympics last week.

On Tuesday 8th August, both Leslie and Jordan won gold in the singles for Boccia.

On Friday 11th August, as a team, Leslie, Kyle and Jordan brought home the gold once again.

Shortly after winning their final game, emotions were running high.

Leslie said: “I feel out of this world, I have never felt so tense in my entire life. I’ve got two gold medals, I’m the double champion!”

He added: “We weren’t there to make up numbers, we were there to win, and we wouldn’t have achieved what we have without our coaches Mark and Jenna.”

Kyle added: “It’s amazing, the past week has been absolutely perfect.”

Mark Dolan and Jenna Cookson, have been coaching them all for around five years.

Mark said: “It’s absolutely amazing, they should play every game how they played their last.”

Congratulations guys, it has been an absolute pleasure!

Amazing Volunteer Story

Equestrian head judge Doug Smith served for 21 years in the mounted police – until he broke his back in a horrific fall from a horse spooked by two speeding lorries.

Forced into early retirement, Doug turned his focus to Riding for the Disabled Association, which he was introduced to by a charity pin badge seller at the Horse of the Year Show while competing for West Midlands Police.

Dapper Doug, now 66, is adjudicating in the Working Trails discipline, which tests athletes’ practical riding skills.

He said: “The Special Olympics is the perfect combination of participation, performance and pride.”

Written by Ellie Wilson

Inspirational Coaches

The East Midlands regional Special Olympics basketball team was set up by coach Roger Sharpe who's been coaching for 28 years. He's 73 years old and set up the team back in 1989 in Leicester along with current Captain of the team Mark Richards who's 46.

Roger was inspired to set up the team after working in a school with students with intellectual disabilities.

In the same team is experienced Special Olympics athlete Andrew Mugginson who's 47 years old and was a student of Rogers in 1981. He only joined the basketball team in a switch from swimming after his transport links were cut to the pool he trained in 12 miles away. His first games were back in 1986 where he won his first of many medals in breaststroke. 

Also despite only joining the basketball team around a year ago and currently recovering from a gall bladder operation, fellow teammate Robert Gray has come to support his team, showing the true ethos of the games. 

In the photo from left to right,

Robert, Mark, Roger and Andrew. 

Written by Matt Reilly

Fabulous Families

We love hearing about families uniting and supporting each other at the games! #SOGB

Father and son duo, David and Phillip Jordan, are representing the South East region in the 10-pin bowling event.

David [Left] has volunteered with Special Olympics for over 30 years and has come to the National Summer Games as one of the coaches for the South East.

His son, Phillip [Right], or “P.J” as he is known to his teammates, is competing in the 10-pin bowling events this week.

When Phillip was born, doctor’s said they did not expect him to live for more than 24 hours.

Now, he lives independently on his own and is a regular competitor for Special Olympics Surrey, which he joined in his youth.

His Father said: “I am immensely proud. It’s wonderful to see how happy and excited they are, it’s all you can want. Yesterday’s enthusiasm was fantastic.”

After attending yesterday’s opening ceremony, David said that despite the cold and rain it was, “a great show. We had a very nice time.”

“This event gives the athletes the freedom to enjoy themselves and achieve something, just like anyone else.”

Good luck to the both of you!

Words by: Hayley Everett

Outstanding Officials

Big thanks to our officials this week, such as our fantastic football referee.

Veteran referee Pete Lynch loves the Special Olympics because of the fantastic examples of sportsmanship that take place throughout the whole competition. 

He said: “The genuine pleasure on their faces when they score a goal is simply brilliant.”

#seeingisbelieving

Words by: Edd Evans

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