Norfolk gymnast Shane Baxter and Suffolk Coach Alex Row are preparing to take on the rest of the world at the Special Olympics World Summer Games next month.
Held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, the Games will feature 24 different sports, competed for by more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from all over the world.
Special Olympics is a global organisation that provides year-round sports training and competition to over five million children and adults with intellectual disabilities in over 170 countries.
Shane, 19, who lives in Norwich, competes in all six disciplines for male gymnasts: parallel bars, vault, high bar, pommel, rings and floor. He won the overall gold medal for his level at the Special Olympics National Games in Sheffield in 2017 where, along with other Norfolk Special Olympics athletes, he represented the Eastern Region.
Being selected to represent Great Britain at the Games is a dream come true for Shane. He says: "I am so proud to be representing Great Britain. I can't wait for the Opening Ceremony on 14 March. The atmosphere and meeting athletes from all over the world is going to be brilliant. I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me and will do my best to bring home some medals for them!"
Shane began gymnastics six years ago with Long Stratton Gymnastics Club. He currently trains three times a week with Waveney Gymnastics Club in Lowestoft, as well as attending squad training in Sheffield and Glasgow. Alex Row, his coach at Waveney, will be one of the coaches accompanying the GB team and has been supporting Shane along his gymnastics journey. Alex says’ this is a great opportunity as a coach to help support Shane and other athletes in more than just a club setting, I am looking forward to meeting people from all walks of life and allowing these athletes to achieve their dreams ‘
The Special Olympics movement is recognised by the International Olympic Committee as the third member of the Olympic family but, unlike Paralympics which is for elite sportspeople with disabilities, Special Olympics is for all abilities and all ages. Just like the Olympics, World Games are held every four years.
It was founded 50 years ago in America by Eunice Kennedy, sister of JFK. They had a sister with learning disabilities and Eunice saw sport as a great way to unite people from all walks of life. She set up Special Olympics to give people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to realise their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience friendship and the spirit of fair competition.
The work of Special Olympics is currently 100% funded by individual, trust and corporate donations so your support is crucial enabling us to transform the lives of more than 1.5m children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Norfolk and Special Olympics Suffolk have been working hard to send the pair to the World Games. If you'd like to help support Alex and Shane, you can do so at
Special Olympics Great Britain (GB) provides year-round sports coaching and athletic competition in summer and winter sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of skills, gifts and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community..
Through around 150 accredited programmes in England, Scotland and Wales, we provide coaching and competition opportunities in 28 sports. These programmes are run by over 4,000 volunteers, who support thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities to take part in our sport programme.
SOGB transforms lives through sport, providing opportunities, make lasting friendships and develop new skills. Everyone can get involved with SOGB as an athlete, parent or volunteer. Special Olympics Great Britain 2019 World Summer Games consists of 128 athletes and 52 volunteers competing across 17 sports. For more information visit www.SpecialOlympicsGB.org.uk.
For further information, please contact: Nicola Fish, Chairman of Special Olympics Norfolk, firstname.lastname@example.org or Ellen Hutchings, Head of Inclusive Gymnastics at Waveney Gymnastics Club, email@example.com