Shane & Alex head to the World Games

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

For further information, please contact: Nicola Fish, Chairman of Special Olympics Norfolk, or Ellen Hutchings, Head of Inclusive Gymnastics at Waveney Gymnastics Club,




Over the weekend competition of the Poole Open Championships for gymnasts with a disability, the Waveney Gymnastics Club were represented by fourteen different youngsters in a variety of categories, identified by their particular special needs. The whole competition is one of the biggest and most prestigious in the country with gymnasts from across the United Kingdom taking part. The organisation to get the gymnasts to the event, confident in their routines, accommodation booked is a major task and the parents, families and coaches involved with this weekend are to be congratulated on the success that occurred as a result of their combined efforts. The competition involves participation in gymnastics and for some gymnasts also trampoline routines.


In the competition there are medals awarded for the individual apparatus places for the top three and overall medals for the final total positions of the top three. The gymnastics competitions were as follows:-


Level B, Under 9 year old girls:- Madeline Reeder on Floor 17.20 (2nd); Vault 17.50 (2nd). The winner of two silver medals.


Level 1, Under 9 year old girls:- Hollie Williams on Floor 16.90 (4th); Vault 18.20 (3rd); Beam 16.35 (4th). Winner of the bronze medal on vault.


Level 1, Under 12 year old girls:- Sophie Anderson-Field on Floor 16.60 (4th); Vault 18.90 (4th); Beam 15.80 (3rd). A bronze medal on beam.

Aya Bendaoud on Floor 17.35 (1st); Vault 19.00 (2nd); Beam 18.20 (1st). Two gold and a silver medal for Aya on the day.


Level 2, Under 9 year old girls:- Poppy Weddle on Floor 15.80 (1st); Vault 19.00 (1st); Beam 17.40 (1st). Poppy finished with three gold medals.


Level 2, Under 16 year old girls:- Chloe Jacobs on Floor 17.10 (2nd); Vault 19.20 (1st); Beam 18.45 (2nd). So two silver and one gold medal for Chloe.

Megan Hobson on Floor 18.70 (1st); Vault 18.80 (2nd); Beam 19.00 (1st). giving Megan two gold medals and a silver for her three pieces of apparatus.


Level B, Under 9 year old boys:- Ashton Swallows on Floor 18.40 (1st); Vault 18.80 (1st). Ashton picked up two gold medals.

Harry Beaumont-Smith on Floor 17.65 (3rd); Vault 18.60 (2nd). So a silver and bronze medal for Harry.


Level B, Under 12 year old boys:- Simon Booth on Floor 19.15 (1st); Vault 18.90 (1st). Simon therefore was awarded two gold medals for his competition.


Level B, Under 16 year old boys:- Alastair Belousov on Floor 14.55 (2nd); Vault 18.70 (2nd). Two well deserved silver medals for Alastair.


Level B, Under 21 year old boys:- Jack Witheridge on Floor 18.90 (1st); Vault 19.70 (1st). Jack won two gold medals for his competition. This is a real achievement for Jack who has been a committed member of the club for over ten years.


Level 1, Under 12 year old boys:- Lincoln Wilson on Floor 18.90 (1st); Vault 19.40 (1st); Parallel Bars 17.40 (2nd). Two gold and a silver medal for Lincoln on the day.


At the end of the gymnastics competitions the award for the disability gymnast of the year was made to each of the two outstanding individuals from the girls and boys sections. Megan Hobson was awarded the trophy for female disability gymnast of the year. Well done to Megan and all those who took part for such an outstanding set of results.


In the trampoline competition, which is either a 6, 8 or 10 bounce routine dependent upon the ability of the individual competitors we had thirteen taking part and their results were as follows. Again anybody in first, second or third place would have won gold, silver or bronze medals respectively.


In the 6 bounce routines the results finished:-

Under 9 girls:- Poppy Weddle 7.50 (4th); Madeline Reeder &.70 (3rd).

Under 12 girls:- Sophie Anderson- Field 8.50 (4th); Aya Bendaoud 7.40 (8th).

Under 9 boys:- Ashton Swallows 7.50 (2nd); Harry Beaumont-Smith 6.50 (3rd).

Under 12 boys:- Simon Booth 7.60 (3rd); Lincoln Wilson 7.80 (1st).

Under 16 boys:- Alastair Belousov 6,40 (4th).

Under 21 boys:- Jack Witheridge 6.90 (4th).


In the 10 bounce routines the results finished:-

Under 16 girls;- Chloe Jacobs 8.37 (2nd); Megan Hobson 8.64 (1st).

Under 16 boys:- Jack Jacobs 8.40 (1st).


At the completion of the competition the Waveney Gymnastics Club had a won a lot of medals with all the competitors doing extremely well over the weekend and the club coaches who have worked with them being delighted with them all. A huge recognition goes to Ellen Hutchings, the senior coach for disability gymnastics at the club and her team of staff who have helped prepare and accompany the gymnasts throughout the year, which includes. Holly Durbridge, Pam Laws, Callum Bell, Caitlin Dyer, Rebecca Lewis and Sandra Crowe.


The success of these youngsters within the sport of gymnastics is helping them make major improvements both physically and in their self esteem, which is a credit to the team involved and the support of their families. If any businesses or individuals would like to sponsor or support the club in its development to make greater progress with these youngsters and other members of the club, contact the club on 01502 501419 or email the club at


Report by J. Pawsey (Chairman) 23/10/2018