Cessnock will be well-represented at the Special Olympics National Games in Adelaide next week.
Local athletes Joseph Smith (swimming) and Mary Marks (ten pin bowling) are part of the 370-strong NSW squad, which will compete across 11 sports over five days.
The NSW/ACT swim team is coached by Cessnock’s Ellena Morris – who is the sports coordinator for Special Olympics Hunter Valley – and Maddie Benson, also of Cessnock, will attend the games as a support person for the swim team.
Morris has been involved in Special Olympics for about 30 years, and said it offers people with intellectual disability the chance to meet new people, make friends for life, represent their state and gain independence.
It will be the first time Smith and Marks have competed at the Special Olympics National Games, which are held every four years.
Smith, 18, will swim in the 50 and 100-metre freestyle, the 50-metre backstroke and a relay.
He has been swimming since he was three years old and joined Special Olympics Hunter Valley when he was six. He and is excited for the opportunity to travel to Adelaide.
The national games will be Smith’s last Special Olympics competition, as he is stepping back from the sport to focus on his studies.
Marks, 53, will compete in the singles and doubles.
She has travelled all over Australia for ten pin bowling since taking up the sport 27 years ago, and is proud to be taking part in her first national games.
“It’s a fantastic honour to get picked,” she said.
The Special Olympics National Games will run from April 16 to 20, and selections for the World Games in Abu Dhabi in March 2019 will follow.