Not only is Georgina Maton, Special Olympics GB Equestrian athlete, heading to the World Games in LA next month but she got a surprise visit from her heroine, double gold winning Paralympian Natasha Baker at Oaklands College in St. Albans.
In this picture, Georgina is flanked by Natasha and World Games Coach Sarah Moreland.
Georgina said: “I was so excited because I have always wanted to meet her. Her tips were really helpful and I really appreciate her help. I’m really excited about Los Angeles. I’m looking forward to it and seeing what awards I might come back with.”
Natasha, who won two gold medals in dressage at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, said: “Her reaction was priceless. I wasn’t sure how she would react and what she would think as it was a total surprise for her but she was so happy. She is doing amazingly well – her riding has come on in leaps and bounds. To go to Los Angeles and compete for her country is an amazing opportunity. I have told her to have fun, which is the most important thing, get to know her horse and do her best.”
Georgina, who has learning disabilities and weakness on the right side of her body, started riding at the age of five and hasn’t let her disability stop her studying at the College and working three days a week as a supported member of staff.
Georgina Maton is one of five Equestrian athletes heading to Los Angeles in July to represent Special Olympics GB at the World Games.
The 26 year old from Barnet goes to college twice a week and trains in St Albans. It has been clear for some time about her passion.
Georgina said: “I always knew I needed horses in my life. I made my parents take me to riding lessons. We found a lovely lady ‘Sarah Horseriding’ who taught me to ride when I was 5 on a curly pony called Autumn!
“I find lots of things hard and have had some difficult times in my life – like school, but I think I understand horses – and they don’t judge me.
“When I was 17 at college I did horse-riding with another lovely Sarah, Sarah Moreland, who is now the Special Olympics Coach and I started to live my life.
“I went to the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy in the New Forest for 3 years where I learnt life skills through horsemanship.
I’m now riding, competing and working with horses and still learning and loving it!
“I want to do my very best at the World Games. I want to make everyone proud and to compete for my country as part of the GB team.
“I live independently with support and I’ve surprised lots of people by doing that.
“I think I’ve done really well working at the RDA horse yard and training to compete with dressage events.
“Special Olympics lets me achieve doing something I love and I can be myself too. I can meet people and help new people too.
“My sporting hero is Natasha Baker. She’s a Paralympic dressage rider. It’s my aim to be as good as her and to meet her was one of the biggest thrills of my life.
“My favourite sporting moment was watching the GB Paralympic team collect their medals at the 2012 London Olympics – I was bursting with pride just watching!
“I would say that my most special sporting moment when was when I won two gold medals at my first National Games in Leicester in 2009 – I couldn’t believe it, it felt so good.
“I am proud to be working hard at college on improving my reading and writing. It can be very hard for me, but I know it is slowly getting better, so I am going to keep on working until I get there!
“I love anything to do with horses. My family say I manage to turn most conversations around to talking about horses. I also like swimming and keeping fit, going for coffee with friends, reading books on my Kindle and surfing the net.
“Special Olympics means I can join in and belong in a group where I am committed to training and working hard, and I am accepted for who I am. I don’t have to pretend. It’s ok to have a disability. I want to be a good ambassador for the Special Olympics GB team.”
With less than 50 days to go, Special Olympics GB is delighted that over 100 athletes from across England, Scotland and Wales will be heading this summer’s 2015 World Summer Games in Los Angeles.
The World Summer Games is the global showpiece event for Special Olympics and is held every four years by the organisation for its athletes.
In the region of 7,000 athletes from 177 countries – along with 3,000 coaches, 30,000 volunteers and an anticipated 500,000 spectators – will take part in the Games.
Special Olympics GB is the largest registered charity providing year round sports training and competition opportunities for people with intellectual (learning) disabilities in England, Scotland and Wales. Almost 1.5 million people in the UK (2% of the population) have an intellectual disability.
The World Summer Games will commence with an opening ceremony held on 25th July 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games.
The opening ceremony is expected to attract 80,000 spectators with the Honorary Chair of the Games being President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown are serving as honorary hosts for the Special Olympics World Summer Games.
The event, which will run from July 25th until 2nd August 2015, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015. It will also be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.
The 2015 Special Olympics World Games – with unparalleled spirit, enthusiasm, teamwork, joy and displays of courage and skill, all the hallmarks of all Special Olympics events – will feature 28 sports at venues throughout the Los Angeles region.
Special Olympics is an international organisation that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all.
Founded in 1968, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4 million athletes in 177 countries in all regions of the world, providing year round sports training and competition.
Special Olympics GB CEO Karen Wallin said: “I am delighted that we are able to take such a large team to represent the country at what should be an incredible World Summer Games in Los Angeles.