Hamil­ton haul for Mana Olympians

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - KRIS DANDO

Four medals in a swim­ming com­pe­ti­tion rep­re­sents a good re­turn for some­one who used to be ter­ri­fied of wa­ter.

Mana Spe­cial Olympics mem­ber Wilson Stock was a star at the re­cent trans-Tas­man tour­na­ment, held in Hamil­ton.

The Porirua-based club took eight ath­letes to the three-day event, which fea­tured hun­dreds of Spe­cial Olympians from New Zealand and Aus­tralia.

They won 22 medals, 11 of which were gold.

Mana did not par­tic­i­pate in any of the ath­let­ics com­pe­ti­tion, in­stead fo­cus­ing on the swim meet, man­ager He­len Brookes said.

Stock and the other ath­letes had their nerves set­tled by a 25-me­tre re­lay event first up, be­fore he got into his work.

‘‘Up till about three years ago, we couldn’t get Wilson in the pool,’’ Brookes said.

‘‘But we en­cour­aged him into Can­nons Creek Pool, which is shal­low, and built up his con­fi­dence, which has re­ally grown.’’

Wilson won a gold medal in the 25m freestyle, sil­ver in the re­lay and bronze medals in the 25m back­stroke and 50m freestyle.

‘‘He was over the moon, had a won­der­ful time,’’ Brookes said.

The team, coached by Shan­non Spencer and Kerry Leighton, were com­pet­ing in their first national or international event and loved ev­ery minute of their time in Hamil­ton.

‘‘It was well-run, but the Mana guys got the party go­ing,’’ Brookes said.

‘‘When­ever there was a flat pe­riod [at the pool], they got the mu­sic crank­ing and had peo­ple danc­ing. They cer­tainly made their pres­ence felt and made lots of new friends.’’

Team mem­ber Gary Al­bright, who re­cently won the Dis­abled Sportsper­son of the Year at the Porirua Sports Awards, typ­i­fied the spirit of Spe­cial Olympics with his lead­er­ship and at­ti­tude, Brookes said.

‘‘In one race he came sixth, but cel­e­brated like he’d won - it was in­cred­i­ble.’’

Ev­ery Mana ath­lete com­peted in three in­di­vid­ual events and the re­lay, and re­turned to Porirua with at least two medals apiece, one be­ing gold.

It is hoped that at next year’s nationals, in Novem­ber, Mana will send a big team to com­pete in foot­ball, ten pin bowl­ing, swim­ming and bas­ket­ball.

Back row, from left, Gary Al­bright, Bron­son Wil­liamsEl­liot, Don­ald Wil­liams, Tom Rogers and front row, from left, Wilson Stock, Lo­gan O’Con­nor, Toni Tawhai, and Sa­man­tha Broth­wood-McKee at the Spe­cial Olympics Trans Tas­man Tour­na­ment last month.

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