Special Olympics City of Hull club athlete Angus Leckonby has recently returned home from Sheffield with a haul of medals after starring at the biggest domestic swimming event of the year, the Swim England Summer Meet.
Angus (21), who lives in Octon near Driffield, won silver medals at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in the 200m Freestyle and 100m Butterfly. He also took gold in the multi class event and the 100m backstroke, beating his personal best in the latter by more than three seconds.
The success caps an incredible nine-years in swimming for Angus, who only started competing in the sport as a 12-year-old after his PE teacher at Kings Mill Special School, Driffield, saw a talent.
“Swimming has shown Angus that he can participate alongside anyone,” said his father, Matthew Leckonby. “He’s made new friends and it’s helped give him the confidence to live away from home and study at Linkage College in Grimsby.
“His PE teacher recommended Special Olympics City of York club to us initially, which is how swimming became such a big part of our lives.
“He started swimming once a week on Sundays, but he wanted to do more so joined Scarborough Swim Club to get two more sessions in at a mainstream club.
“From there he moved into competitions, racing in the Swim England para-swimming events, but also attended the 2017 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games in Sheffield, where he won three golds and a bronze medal.”
The swimming connection runs in the Leckonby family, with Matthew having competed at national level until the age of 16. He is now a qualified swimming coach and volunteers for Special Olympics City of Hull and Scarborough Swim Club.
“I competed at quite a high level, but lost interest in my mid-late teenage years as other interests took over,” said Matthew. “However, Angus has gone the other way and would swim even more than the four or five times a week that he currently does if he could.
“As soon as I saw how happy it was making him, I wanted to get back involved in the sport and soon became a qualified coach.”
Angus moved from Special Olympics City of York to the City of Hull club in January 2023 because of the timing of the swim sessions working better for his wider swimming schedule.
“We currently have 20 athletes swimming every Saturday afternoon at Woodford Leisure Centre.
“Angus is great friends with fellow swimmer Adam Loubani, who recently won two gold medals at Berlin 2023, and they lived in the same residential house at Linkage College. We were glued to the live streams of the World Games and were very tearful when we saw Adam win his gold medals.
“Having been part of the Special Olympics GB family for nearly 10 years, I’ve seen the huge difference that the sporting opportunities can give to so many families.
“Angus was very challenging as a child. He had a lot of aggression and struggled to communicate and understand his emotions, because of his autism and intellectual disability.
“We lived in France for several years as a family and he started to undergo quite a transformation through the educational support that he recevied. He made more great strides when we returned home, in 2014, and he started swimming and joined the Special Olympics family.”
Having completed his studies at Linkage College, Angus has returned home to Driffield to start an apprenticeship in the family business Angilou Upholstery and Furniture.
“Angus has been doing some upholstery work in the business for a few years now and is a real craftsman. He’s a visual learner and gets a lot out of repeating the same skills, similar to his swimming.
“Alongside his apprenticeship, he’s very excited to start work experience at North Yorkshire Water Park.
“We started open water swimming in 2020 when the first lockdown restrictions were eased and, soon after we started it, Angus told me that he would love to work there at the water park.”
Having already achieved so much at the age of 21, Matthew thinks Angus could do so much more in swimming and his career.
“We recently bought an endless (training) swimming pool that we’re going to set-up at home so I can provide more coaching to Angus and other swimmers. However, I think he has the potential be a qualified coach as well one day.
“He loves competing and put in several incredible performance in Sheffield. It would be fantastic if a World Games opportunity came about in the future, but right now he’s very excited about the Special Olympics North West Swimming Gala in September.
“Just being in the swimming pool is a joy to Angus.”
Angus and many other swimmers in the Special Olympics GB family will be competing in the Special Olympics North West Swimming Gala, hosted by Blackpool Polar Bears on Saturday 30 September. For further details, please click here.