Hamilton haul for Mana Olympians
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.