Special Olympics GB achieved a great many things at this year’s Summer Games held in Antwerp, not least of which, the 103 medals they returned with.
Here’s how all the athletes got on!
Niall Finlayson (100m gold and 200m bronze). Finalyson ran a superb race since all of the times in the final were within a second of each other. He also ran a personal best in the 200m divisioning.
Fleur O’Donohue (100m gold and 200m bronze). O’Donohue improved on her qualifying time running 32.75 in the 200m.
Edward Williams (Long Jump gold and 100m bronze). Williams had to work hard for his medal, but did really well and improved on his qualifying time in the 100m final. He also beat his qualifying jump of 2.68m by 2 cm’s to clinch the long jump gold.
Alicia Bradshaw (100m 31.89secs silver and 200m bronze). Bradshaw was very nervous before her race but managed to run superbly for the silver with a personal best time.
Gary Starkey (Shot 6.46m silver and 100m 5th). Starkey improved on his qualifying time and ran a very good race.
Nicholas Mann (200m 5th and100m 6th). Still smiling, Mann managed to improve on his qualifying time by over a second running the 200m in 40 seconds.
Linzi Finnigan (100m 5th and 200m participated) Finnigan also won a gold medal in the 4x100m relay. This made up for disqualification in the 200m. She also ran the 100m and even though Finnigan did not win a medal she did beat her qualifying time.
Jennifer Power (400m did not finish and 200m did not take part). Power did not run in the 200m as she was not well. This also meant that she did not finish the 400m. Nevertheless, she did run a personal best earlier in the competition.
(4x100m Female Relay gold) Alicia Bradshaw, Linzi Finnigan, Fleur O’Donhue and Jennifer Power. GB had the best divisioning time so a gold medal was always on the cards.
(4x100m Male Relay silver) Nicholas Mann, Edward Williams, Niall Finnlayson and Gary starkey.
Natalie Moon (100m Breaststroke 1m 34.16secs gold and 400m Freestyle 5min 37.43secs silver). Moon cruised home to take the gold medal to add to her silver. Moon also achieved a personal best in the 100m Breaststroke of 1m 32.54secs.
Adam Meanwell (100m Breaststroke 1min 16.77secs gold and 100m Freestyle 1min 0.62secs gold)
Maria Orsi (50m Butterfly gold and 50m Freestyle 48.03secs – personal best, silver). Orsi showcased excellent race skills to claim her gold medal.
Ann-Marie Reid (25m Backstroke 32.70secs silver and 25m Freestyle 30.47secs – personal best, silver). Reid swam an exciting race from an outside lane to secure the silver medal with a new personal best.
Kieran Neary (100m Backstroke 1min 12.19secs silver and 100m Freestyle 1min 03.70secs – personal best, bronze). Neary was the only other athlete to better his entry time, which was in the 100m Freestyle.
Scott Cleaver (400m Freestyle 5min 31.30secs – personal best, silver and 100m Breaststroke 1min 37.72secs 4th). Cleaver’s 400m race was a gutsy swim and very exciting to watch, leading from the start he made the other swimmers really work hard, improving his personal best time by five seconds in the process.
Charles Culwick (100m Breaststroke 1min 46.27secs bronze and 100m Backstroke 1min 33.0secs 5th). Culwick swam his final race fighting; with his goggles full of water and off his eyes and finished in third place. Culwick also achieved a personal best of 1min 43.45secs in the 100m Breaststroke.
Emma Birley (50m Freestyle 52.62secs personal best 4th and 25m Backstroke 28.15 4th). Birley achieved a personal best of 28.07 in the 25m Backstroke as well as knocking five seconds off her 50m Freestyle time finishing in fourth place, missing out on the bronze medal by 0.30 seconds.
Sam Pattinson (50m Butterfly 5th and 50m Freestyle 36.28secs 8th) Pattinson was ranked fifth going into the 50m Butterfly final and sustained his position, swimming the race in a personal best time of 38.22secs. The final was tough and Pattinson was up against some excellent competition but he showed great racing skills to match his divisioning time.
Dylan Thorburn (50m Backstroke 45.29secs 4th) and 50m Freestyle 36.60secs 5th) Thorburn, amazingly improved his 50m Freestyle personal best twice at the Games to 36.67secs. His performance in his Backstroke event was excellent, executing the turns perfectly, which he had been working hard on in training.
Jacqueline Minchin (25m Freestyle 27.67secs 7th and 50m Freestyle 58.05secs 7th) Minchin was slightly faster than in qualifying for her 25m freestyle race and received a 7th place ribbon.
(4 x 25m Medley Relay 1m10.26secs silver)
Kieran Neary 15.74secs, Scott Cleaver 20.95, Sam Pattinson 16.82, Dylan Thorburn 16.68.
(4 x 25m Freestyle Relay 1m28.06secs bronze)
Emma Birley 25.29secs, Jacqueline Minchin 26.42, Maria Orsi 20.90, Natalie Moon 15.61
Word from the Aquatics camp:
By the end of the Games every member of the aquatics team had won a medal.
After the Medley Relay the coaches took part in a ‘Coaches Relay’ and Janet Warrington swam in a mixed team made up of Ireland, Great Britain, Israel and Belgium finishing in third place.
The coaching team, Janet Warrington, Stuart Farmer and Andrea Manson said: “We are very proud of the whole team, not only have they all won a medal but they have won medals in different distance events from 25m’s to 400m’s and in all four strokes.”
Catherine Carson and Kerry Duncan (Female Doubles Division 2 gold). Carson and Duncan started off well with a 2 – 0 victory over Winnie Stougaard and Annette Svendsen (Denmark) 21 -12, 21 – 13. They then went on in fairly quick succession to win 2 – 0 against Joanna Chermette and Laetitia Pace (France) 21 – 14, 21 – 13 to secure the gold medal.
Kerry Duncan (Female Singles Division 6 gold). Duncan battled her way through a close three end final match eventually winning 21 – 15, 17 – 21, 21 – 17 against Winnie Stougaard (Denmark) and securing the gold medal.
Mark Goulder (Male Singles Division11 gold). Goulder continued his run of unbeaten matches beating Volodymyr Yanchuk (Ukraine) 21 – 10, 21 – 16 and clinched gold.
Samantha Monk (Female Singles Division 9 silver)
Samantha Monk and Mark Goulder (Mixed Doubles Division 1 silver). Samantha Monk and Mark Goulder started the morning off very well in the divisioning part of the day, moving up and down after every five minute game between the 1st and 2nd spot. After nine demanding back-to-back games they secured a place in the Division 1 Mixed Doubles. The first and probably the hardest fought match of the Championships was narrowly lost 21-19, 20-21, 21-19 to Veronika Popova and Konstantin Grinchuk (Russia). After that close match they secured a convincing victory over the second Russian pair Svetlana Polivanova and Nikita Glushov 21-5, 21–14. Their final match of the day which they had to win to secure silver was against Kristina Puksing and Maikel Nirk (Estonia) which they managed to do 21 15, 21 – 17.
Catherine Carson (Female Singles Division 3 bronze). Unfortunately, Carson lost the third match of her singles division when she had to come off the court after a fall and could not complete the match. She was in tears at being unable to complete her match but in a touching moment her opponent Yelena Makeyana (Kazakhstan) came over and gave Carson a big hug. Carson recovered from her fall the next day and achieved some of her best scores of the week 11 – 21, 9 – 21 against the gold medal winner Yelena Makeyeva and took the bronze.
Word from the badminton camp:
The badminton athletes were used to having a sleep on the bus back to the Sun Parcs Athletes’ Village but after accepting an invitation to join the Table Tennis Team on ‘The Party Bus’ sleep was out of the question, well apart from coach, Lynsey Stuart, who apparently could sleep through an earthquake.
Ruairidh Brown (15km RR gold, 25km RR bronze and 10km TT Division M1 bronze). Brown won the men’s 15km cycling road race with a time of 24 minutes and 15 seconds – this was the first gold medal to be awarded at the 2014 European Games.
Ruairidh Brown and Daniel Weston competed in the same division of the 25K Road Race. The heat was tremendous and the coaches were glad that it wasn’t them on the track but Brown earned a bronze medal with Weston finishing sixth. It was a hard race and Brown and Weston had both already had a hard 10km ride that same morning and so the Russian who had a fresh pair of legs took the gold fairly easily. Brown rode a very mature and tactical race grabbing a convincing third place with a final sprint over the last few hundred metres.
Leanne Peters (5km TT gold, 10km TT gold and10km RR gold). Peters gave the ride of her life to become GB’s golden girl after securing a personal hat-trick of gold medals for cycling in a series of sensational performances.
Garry Winslow (10km TT Division M2 bronze, 5km TT 4th and 10km RR 7th). Winslow produced a fantastic ride taking 7th. Gary was unbelievably proud of his performance and felt he had ridden his fastest ever. From a young man who couldn’t ride a bike two years ago to now riding in the top division at the Special Olympics is an incredible achievement.
Winslow was also brilliant in the 10km TT – missing out on silver by a very narrow margin of just two seconds.
David Jackson (5km RR bronze, 10km TT 4th and 5K TT 7th)
Although, just missing out on a bronze, David Jackson’s 4th place was an absolute triumph for the GB team. It was another fantastic ride by Jackson who’s getting faster and faster.
Rosemary Hollingsworth (1km TT bronze, 2km RR 4th and 500km TT 6th). Rosie Hollingsworth rode her fastest time of the Games over 500m with a time of 1min 21secs and of course is also delighted with her medal and felt that she had ridden “hard and well”.
Daniel Weston (40km RR div M2 4th, 25km RR 6th) and 10km TT Division M1 7th) After leading the 40km race for almost an hour, Weston was overtaken with just two laps to go by much more tactical riders. Weston and his parents were happy with his 4th place which he rode in a time of 1 hour 10mins. Dan was a bit thirsty after the event and said his legs were feeling a bit sore.
Carslaw competed at level 4 and had a good overall competition. After an uncharacteristic slip on the bars she kept a positive attitude and competed really well on her other pieces, really enthralling the crowd with her floor routine. “The competition has been really fun” she said.
Quail competed at level 3 and had one of her best ever competitions. All her routines were solid and had no major errors. Her floor routine was excellent and she looked really confident as well as enjoying the experience. “Delighted that I got golds and have met lots of new people” she said.
All the gymnasts completed clean routines without any errors and improved on their previous scores. The audience really enjoyed the level 4 boys tumbling on the floor. Buesnel commented that the Games were: “Excellent, and I am delighted that I did a giant in my High Bar routine”
Lang commented that the experience had been: “Absolutely perfect and I have had a great time”. Lang also completed clean routines without any errors and improved on his previous scores.
Bonnar was another gymnast that completed clean routines. His highlight was obvious as he said: “Really exciting; loved to beat the Russians on rings!”
Meiklem described the whole Games experience in a nutshell saying: “Great place, great people, great experience”. Meanwhile, the audience really enjoyed the level 4 boys tumbling on the floor.
Russell competed at level 1 and really shone on a number of pieces. Her vault was one of the highest scoring in the whole competition and her floor routine was also excellent.
The whole team went to support her and many family members were there to cheer her on. Chloe had a fantastic day with two outstanding performances on vault and bars. Her vault was great and scored 19.45 (matching her qualification score) and gaining her a bronze medal in division 1. She also had a great even bar routine gaining her fourth place in division 1. Russell was delighted with her results and the whole team was really proud of her performance and congratulated her on her success. Russell summed the whole thing up by saying: “Great experience and I would love to come to a competition like this again”.
Vieira competed at level 2. She had lovely floor and beam routines and really enjoyed the atmosphere and competing in the arena. “I was very excited and it was fantastic” she said afterwards.
Rae was another of the gymnasts that the audience really enjoyed watching as he completed his floor routine. Rae commented: “The atmosphere has been awesome”.
Word from the gymnastics camp:
The three coaches Yana, Angie and Vicky are so proud of all the gymnasts; they have really shone and proved that they are some of the most talented gymnasts in Europe. “The team have been great together and we have had many laughs and some great memories to take home with us. Well done to the whole team.”
The 2014 Special OlympicsGB European Summer Games Artistic Gymnastic Squad produced some outstanding performances. Every gymnast performed to the best of their ability improving on their qualification scores. The team gained 47 medals overall.
Thomas Farley (gold). Farley was in a pool of five individuals, which meant he was fighting his own weight and a heavier weight group. He lost his first fight against a much heavier and stronger opponent but this seemed to fire Farley up and he won his next three fights by maximum score (ippon) and all in quick time to take gold.
Holly Tadman (gold) Tadman had three fights and won all them all to come away with gold. Tadman fought exceptionally well considering she was very nervous.
John Kane (silver) John Kane had two fights today. He won one and lost one. His final went down to points which meant that Kane came away with a silver medal.
Daniel Amel-Azizpour (bronze)
Zoe Kane (bronze)
Emma Hunt and Jeffrey Jarvis (Mixed Doubles Division 1 gold). Although scheduled in for a 3.30pm match, Hunt and Jarvis were unexpectedly allocated a 10am start.
After a quick warm-up, Hunt and Jarvis raced into a 2-0 lead before their opponents pulled the match score back to 2-2 (both games finishing 10-12). It was a tight match in the deciding set and from 6-6 Hunt and Jarvis pulled away and won 11-7 ensuring an unbeaten competition, resulting in a thoroughly deserved gold medal.
Jenny Turner and George Gibson (Mixed Doubles Division 3 gold). Turner and Gibson won their second match in the group against their Irish opponents, setting up a shot at a gold medal if they could win their final match. Turner and Gibson picked up both their games and won 3-0 to maintain their unbeaten run in the group.
Duncan Feltham (Singles silver). Duncan Feltham was in good form having an excellent game against his Russian opponent and winning it in four sets. This resulted in a deserved silver medal to add to the bronze he won in the doubles with his brother, Alistair.
Emma Hunt (Singles silver). The coaches all agree that Hunt performed extremely well in her first international competition and has proven to be a great member of the table tennis team.
Jeffrey Jarvis (Singles silver). Jarvis got through to the play-offs for the silver medal. Jarvis totally dominated his Belgian opponent and ran out a 3-0 winner to win the medal.
Jenny Turner (Singles silver). Turner completed her group match but unfortunately did not play to the best of her ability but she did manage to get the silver medal to add to the gold medal won in the Mixed Doubles with George Gibson.
Alistair and Duncan Feltham (Men’s Doubles bronze). After a very slow start in both their opening matches (which the coaches put down to an unusual lack of concentration), the Felthams finally focused, winning their final match to ensure that they picked up the bronze medal.
Alistair Feltham (Singles 4th). Feltham lost in straight games. After a three way tie at the top, Alistair finished in fourth 4th place.
Alistair and Duncan Feltham also made history. They became the first twins to compete against each other in a Special Olympics International event. Due to the length of their match, they were the last match in the hall and were watched by an enthralled audience along with television crew and photographers.
George Gibson (Singles 4th). Gibson was up against a very steady Belgian opponent and finished 4th in his group.
Word from the table tennis camp:
Coaches Gail and Kevin would like to thank every one of our Athletes for their commitment and team bonding. They were fantastic ambassadors for Special Olympics Great Britain throughout the competition. It was an honour to be their coaches for the duration of the Games.
With many thanks to Chris Hull and the coaches at Special Olympics GB for their help, without whom this article would not have been possible.