Olympic Games’ legendary gymnasts, Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, put on a masterclass for a group of Special Olympics Great Britain athletes yesterday in Sidcup, near London.
Special Olympics GB is the largest registered charity providing year round sports training and competition opportunities for thousands of people with intellectual (learning) disabilities. Almost 1.2 million people in the UK (2% of the population) have an intellectual disability.
Nadia, who is in London as the head judge for BBC One’s new TV show Tumble, was taking time off from her schedule this week to support some of her favourite athletes from Special Olympics – one of whom is training for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Los Angeles next summer.
Nadia said: “I have always been impressed with the abilities of athletes of Special Olympics. Their determination to overcome their many challenges is truly inspiring. I was also proud to witness a gymnast from Cuba score the first “Perfect 10” in the history of Special Olympics back in 1999 in North Carolina.”
Bart commented: “As a volunteer for over 35 years, I have seen the true magic of Special Olympics, and how, one athlete at a time, Special Olympics changes perceptions about people with intellectual challenges. I am eager to work with the gymnasts as well as help highlight the good work being done by Special Olympics Great Britain.”
One of Special Olympics GB’s Rhythmic Gymnastics team heading to Los Angeles for the World Games next year, Hannah Westerman from Bromley in Kent, was part of the group on Monday getting the chance to meet Nadia and Bart.
Hannah, who is a ten-time national champion, said: “It was incredible to meet Nadia and Bart who do so much for Special Olympics across the World. They gave me great encouragement in the build up to the World Games in LA next year. Nadia was giving me tips on how I can improve and that was amazing.”