Spe­cial olympian torch run

15-YEAR-OLD PICKED FOR SPE­CIAL OLYMPICS WIN­TER GAMES 2013

Bray People - - NEWS - MARY DINAN

GAR­DAI AND mem­bers of the PSNI will hold a torch run in Bray on Thurs­day to sup­port Spe­cial Olympian Stu­art Bri­er­ton.

The Torch Run will be­gin at St. Pa­trick's Na­tional School at 1 p.m. on Thurs­day and will run up the Ve­vay Hill past all the schools and Tesco to ar­rive at the gates of New­court School for 1.15 p.m.

Stu­art will meet the run­ners and bring the Olympic Flame into the school.

Stu­art and his fam­ily would be so happy if as many of the towns­peo­ple of Bray would come out to sup­port the Torch Run.

You can fol­low Ire­land’s progress on www.spe­cialolympics.ie/wintergames and also on Face­book: stu­arts spe­cial olympic jour­ney

WHILE many boys his age are busy with their PlayS­ta­tions, iPods and com­put­ers, Stu­art Bri­er­ton just doesn't have the time for all that. He is on a mis­sion.

Stu­art, a stu­dent at New Court School in Bray, will be rep­re­sent­ing Ire­land in alpine ski­ing at the Spe­cial Olympic World Win­ter Games in South Korea this year.

He is a mem­ber of the Bray Lak­ers, which is a club for peo­ple with spe­cial needs, and is one of six ath­letes to be cho­sen to rep­re­sent Ire­land. Of the six skiers on Team Ire­land, three are from the North and three from the South of Ire­land. Stu­art is the youngest mem­ber from Team Ire­land and the only boy from Bray to be picked for the Spe­cial Olympics World Win­ter Games in South Korea.

Stu­art has shown his ded­i­ca­tion right from the start and was even pre­pared to sac­ri­fice his tai chi class at school to train on the ski slopes of Kil­ter­nan ev­ery Tues­day. He main­tained this was hard to do, but was pre­pared to take what­ever mea­sures were nec­es­sary to rep­re­sent his coun­try.

The 15-year-old said a trip to the Aus­trian ski slopes was part of his train­ing for the games and es­sen­tially his first in­tro­duc­tion to real snow, as pre­vi­ously he trained on a dry slope. Its pur­pose was to pre­pare him for one of the largest win­ter multi-sport events ever to be held in South Korea. Stu­art felt that the real snow was much eas­ier to ski on, and faster too. He said it was ex­cit­ing to be ex­posed to real snow.

It's been a jour­ney of courage as Stu­art trav­elled with­out his par­ents and the com­forts of home. He was ex­posed to a new coun­try and cul­ture, and faced new ski­ing chal­lenges. Stu­art re­called that his first day was dif­fi­cult on ar­rival at the Aus­trian hos­tel, but af­ter a few days he got used to it.

Adapt­ing to the food was dif­fi­cult but he tried to eat as much of it as he could even when it was new to him. He has been put on a spe­cial diet, be­ing en­cour­aged by Bar­bara from Spe­cial Olympics to eat healthy food. Ac­cord­ing to Stu­art, the cold cli­mate pre­sented lit­tle dif­fi­culty as he was well equipped.

An­other chal­lenge with which he coped well was meet­ing new peo­ple for the first time. Stu­art main­tains he had lit­tle dif­fi­culty and he got on very well with two coaches from Ger­many, and he also made a new Ro­ma­nian friend. He is look­ing for­ward to meet­ing and spend­ing more time with th­ese peo­ple again in Korea.

Stu­art is very fit and ac­tive in all kinds of sports. He is pop­u­lar boy with a sunny dis­po­si­tion and out­go­ing per­son­al­ity and hu­mour and his en­thu­si­asm for life is ap­par­ent.

He goes ski­ing twice weekly, plays bas­ket­ball, bad­minton, bowl­ing and ten­nis, and swims with the Bray Lak­ers.

Mum Karen Bri­er­ton told this news­pa­per that it was the Bray Lak­ers that gave him the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in sport, which might oth­er­wise have been de­nied him.

So how did he feel when he found he had been cho­sen to rep­re­sent Ire­land in South Korea? Stu­art re­called that he was so happy when he got word that he went up­stairs and did a vic­tory dance, which he was quite happy to demon­strate dur­ing the in­ter­view. Stu­art said his friends re­act- ed well and gave him great sup­port, which he really ap­pre­ci­ated and is thank­ful for.

He has taken part in var­i­ous fundrais­ing projects, in­clud­ing ta­ble quizzes and bag-pack­ing ven­tures and a cake sale at his own school. The lo­cal com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially Ard­more Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion, has also given great sup­port to him, for which he is very thank­ful. He is also be­ing sup­ported by Spe­cial Olympics Ire­land.

The games will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from Jan­uary 26 to Fe­bru­ary 6, 2013. This is the 10th Spe­cial Olympics World Win­ter Games. Nearly 3,300 ath­letes from 112 coun­tries will come to­gether along with more than 15,000 fam­ily, friends and vol­un­teers.

Pyeongchang is sit­u­ated in the Gang­won province in the Tae­baek Moun­tain re­gion. Pyeongchang hosts many fes­ti­vals dur­ing the year in­clud­ing a trout fes­ti­val. It will be put firmly on the map as it and will host the 2018 Win­ter Olympics.

Stu­art won't be trav­el­ling with his mum and dad Karen and Tony, as par­ents aren't al­lowed to ac­com­pany the Olympic team. They will, how­ever, all catch up later and ac­cord­ing to Karen the open­ing cer­e­mony on Tues­day, Jan­uary 29, is not to be missed.

With a long 10-hour flight ahead and a two-hour bus jour­ney from Seoul, Stu­art will pre­pare by bring­ing games to keep him­self en­ter­tained as well as a stash of healthy ce­real bars. He in­tends to pace him­self by rest­ing on the air­plane. This flight will be a plea­sure as he is keen on avi­a­tion and uses a com­puter flight sim­u­la­tor. An­other hobby is con­struct­ing model air­planes. He said he won't be do­ing the vic­tory dance on the plane on the way over but will have a good long walk be­fore he trav­els.

Stu­art has been in­volved with the Spe­cial Olympics for nine years. He qual­i­fied for the Korea Olympics last April by win­ning two gold medals in grand slalom and gi­ant slalom. Gi­ant slalom is an alpine ski­ing dis­ci­pline and in­volves ski­ing be­tween sets of poles. In grand slalom each gate is long, giv­ing sweep­ing di­rec­tional change.

Stu­art is no stranger to com­pet­i­tive sports as he took part in the na­tional games in Lim­er­ick 2010 in bowl­ing.

Th­ese games bring pub­lic at­ten­tion to the tal­ents and skills of peo­ple with var­ied abil­ity, help­ing to change at­ti­tudes and break­ing down bar­ri­ers. All of this hard work and train­ing has paid off and now he's about to reap the re­wards. He is about to em­bark on the ad­ven­ture of a life­time.

Stu­art on the ski slopes at Kil­ter­nan.

Stu­art Bri­er­ton. Stu­art is a stu­dent

at New Court School in Bray.

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