The Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games 2013 came to a close today. Suffice to say everyone is exhausted (but elated!) after what has been an amazing week of showcasing athletic prowess, socialising, health screening, and new experiences.
Among the multiple sports ceremoies held on Day Four was Aquatics. The atmosphere was great, with all of the athletes and their supporters proud of the achievements at Moana Pool. Many of the athletes had achieved personal bests’, and many athletes were thrilled to have won medals and ribbons. It was a great way to end the competition, with one of the coaches even being thrown in the pool by his athletes.
As it was the last day, we asked participants about their personal highlights from the Games. Here are some of the responses:
Stephanie Manu from Special Olympics Wanganui said that the biggest highlight of attending the Games was "getting over my fear". Stephanie was competing in the Aquatics, and was afraid of the deep pool, however she overcame that fear and did really well. Congratulations Stephanie.
Athletes Trista Small, Sam Donaldson, Rosemary Keith, Teresa Kavanagh, Haylee Palmer and Stephanie Manu, all from Wanganui really enjoyed "competing, winning medals, meeting new people, and making new friends". Coach Amanda Cornforth added, "The whole atmosphere of the games has been really great". She also applauded the Healthy Athlete Screening Programme for their good work, "especially the eye examinations".
Coaches Margaret Baker and Denise Ferguson from Special Olympics Hawke's Bay enjoyed everything about the Games saying, "the whole thing has been a highlight, everybody has shone". They mentioned that having all of their athletes breaking their personal bests was awesome. Margaret also added that the Healthy Athlete Programme has really improved since the last National Summer Games were held.
Andrea Gilroy from Special Olympics Hawke's Bay was really happy with her efforts, saying that "swimming for her nephews" was the highlight of the Games.
Amanda Wrench from Special Olympics North Harbour really enjoyed competing in the freestyle event at Moana Pool because she "came first".
Elizabeth Davis from Special Olympics Wellington enjoyed coming to Dunedin for the Games, saying that "it is a beautiful city" and she has had fun. She enjoyed competing in the swimming competitions at Moana Pool. Elizabeth also enjoyed the bus rides because they were "really bumpy and the drivers were friendly".
Astrid Irvine, mother of Monique from Special Olympics Auckland really enjoyed everything at the Games. She was happy to see many athletes beat their personal bests. Astrid was also very proud of her own daughter who received a gold medal.
Alan and Glennis Heath, parents of Rebecca Heath from Special Olympics Wellington, really enjoyed coming to Dunedin to support the athletes saying, "It has been an emotional roller coaster". They have taken pleasure in not only supporting their own athlete, but also supporting all the athletes, meeting other family members, and becoming involved with the athletes. They mentioned that the highlight for their daughter has been to win a medal, and to meet up with friends from different teams that she has met at other competitions. Alan added that "the saying 'elephants never forget' should be changed to: 'people with intellectual disabilities never forget'. They remember everyone – it's a great friendly environment". Alan and Glennis thought that the Opening Ceremony was brilliant, and were looking forward to the Closing Ceremony when the flag would be handed over to Wellington for the next National Summer Games.
Jack Wellstead and Kenny Chor from Special Olympics Central Otago really enjoyed their freestyle swimming races, meeting new friends, catching up with old friends and winning medals.
Athlete Jonathan Dylan from Special Olympics Thames Valley won a gold medal in the 800m, a silver medal in the relay, and a bronze medal in the 400m, and says that the best part of the games has been "the competition and meeting new people".
Simon Ashby from Special Olympics Thames Valley won a silver medal and a 4th place ribbon in the Indoor Bowls competition. He says that "he had a good game yesterday, and had heaps of fun playing with his team".
Gavin Copeman said that his favourite part of the week was "winning silver for bowls and a fourth place ribbon in the pairs".
Nyssa Topp from Special Olympics Nelson’s biggest highlight was "playing against other teams, shaking hands with other people, and getting a photo with Brad Thorne!" She also enjoyed the lunches, playing Bocce, the Taiko Japanese Drummers and the Kapa Haka Group. She says that Studholme college is beautiful, and that Judy Marris, their team coach, is wonderful.
John Currie from Special Olympics Nelson’s biggest highlights were "making new friends, watching the basketball and watching the power lifters get their medals!". It was his first time competing at the National Summer Games.
Coach Janet Feary from Special Olympics Auckland said that her biggest highlight was "seeing the athletes achieve, and seeing them do their best", and also “the re-acquaintance of old friends”.
Athlete David Menezes from the Special Olympics Auckland Basketball team said that he broke his personal record, which was three baskets in a game but is now seven. His highlight was playing basketball, saying "I'm addicted to the ball! Running, shooting and catching the ball. I love all of it".
Judy and Gerald who volunteered as catering staff for all four days said of their experience, "the biggest highlight was seeing [the atheltes'] lovely, smiling faces, and the camaraderie. We’ve been given a job that we’ve loved – it’s been absolute magic". They also said that they were very moved by the Opening Ceremony, and were very much looking forward to the Closing Ceremony. "It’s been a privilege to be here."