A triumphant Isle of Man Special Olympics team returned home from 10 days of action-packed competition at the World Summer Games in Athens with a bag full of medals and vivid memories of a wonderful time in the Greek capital.
Held between June 25 and July 4, the event attracted a total number of 7,000 athletes from more than 170 countries around the world, supported by 3,000 coaches and officials, 25,000 volunteers, 40,000 family members, thousands of spectators, as well as 100s of media representatives.
The Isle of Man squad consisted of 27 competitors participating in nine disciplines, supported by an equally strong team of officials and helpers.
The sports contested by the Manx team were athletics, aquatics, badminton, bocce, cycling, equestrian, football, golf and gymnastics.
They returned to Mona’s Isle late on Tynwald Day with a combined tally of 25 medals, including a number of gold.
There were notable achievements from Manx athletes at world class level in most of the sports contested. Peel’s Zoe Lambie won the women’s singles badminton competition and took bronze in the mixed doubles with David Hudson.
The equestrian team of David Dinham and Nikki Wright had a highly successful time. David took a brace of gold medals in the working trials and equitation classes, plus a silver in the dressage, while Nikki won bronzes in the working trials and dressage, missing out on a podium finish in the equitation with fifth.
The footballers were jubilant after winning their competition, the team of Gareth Cowin, Mark Henry, Josh Samuels, Tom Hall, Jason Fox, Andrew Kermode, Stuart Marquis and Giles Ackerley all receiving gold medals.
World Games veteran Lawrence Dyer won silver in the men’s 5,000 metre run and bronze in the 10,000m, while Katie Saunders excelled with silver in the women’s 100m sprint. Castletown’s Duncan Watterson took the silver medal in the men’s 4kg Shot-putt competition, with Peter Taylor sixth in the 400m run and seventh in the 200m.
Lawrence, Katie, Duncan and Peter teamed up to win the gold medal in the 4x100m relay with a new Manx record time of 61.22 seconds.
In the aquatics, Emily Davies took silver in the women’s 25m breaststroke, similar to Katie Dulson in the 50m freestyle and Justine Perry in her category of the same event.
The latter finished sixth in the 100m freestyle, with Katie replicating that position in the 25m backstroke. Andrew McGeehan finished seventh in both his 50m and 100m freestyle finals.
Bocce, a sport related to the French outdoor game of boules, Susan Quirk took gold in the singles and silver with Nicola Wooldridge in the doubles.
Lone Manx cyclist Chris Hattersley won silver medals in the 10km and 15km road races and bronze in the 10km time trial.
Gymnastics saw Paul Clucas take the silver in the floor exercise and bronze in the vaulting competition. Rebecca Miller won bronze in the beam balance, fourth in the floor exercise and seventh in the vaulting.
Golfers Sean Roberts and Karl Monaghan finished third and fourth respectively in the individual skills, Sean earning a bronze.