Mana athlete selected for special world champs
Stevie Bishop comes from a strong basketball family and he hasn’t let intellectual disability keep him off the court.
Stevie’s aunt represented New Zealand, his brother plays for the Wellington Saints and now he has been selected for the national team for the Special Olympics World Games.
The team will compete in Los Angeles in July, 2015.
Basketball has always been part of the Titahi Bay family’s life, he said.
Bishop said he was looking forward to travelling to the United States, get- ting to know his nine team mates in their training camps and to playing for his country.
He is the only basketball player to be chosen from the Wellington region and his club coach Helen Brookes was also selected as national team cocoach.
Brookes coaches in Porirua now, but previously won national honours during the nine years that she coached the Hutt Valley team, where she first met Bishop. He has a big mission, she said. ‘‘Twelve months to raise $10,000 and 12 months to get into shape.’’
Bishop had played in the national championships six months ago but had slacked off a little since, she said.
Fitness was doubly beneficial for him because it reduced the frequency of the regular fits he experiences.
Brookes said she was amazed by the special athletes’ passion for their sport. No matter which team scores, they all celebrate, she said.
‘‘They have this love for the sport that elite athletes might forget about.’’
They are also especially challenging to coach.
‘‘They don’t argue, but they do question,’’ she said.
She might send them on a couple of laps to warm up before training, and they would ask ‘‘why?’’.
She would tell them why, and was likely to have the identical conversation with the same athlete at the following week’s training session.
She has about 22 special athletes turning up to training every week, most of whom will never play a game. They are just there for the fun. ‘‘Sometimes we get hung up on stuff, and these athletes just remind you that, actually, life is pretty good,’’ Brookes said.
A fundraising website has been set up for Bishop: www.givealittle.co.nz/ cause/Stevieworlds.