A Middle Rasen gymnast is on top of the world after winning gold at the Special Olympics Games in Los Angeles.
In his first major international tournament, Andrew McLaughlin competed on six pieces of apparatus during the Gymnastics (Artistic) events, securing podium positions in five of them.
There was bronze in the vault and parallel bars and silver for the rings and his floor routine.
But it was his outstanding achievement on the horizontal bars which saw him pip his competitors to the post to guarantee gold.
To round the medal haul off, the 30-year-old, who has Down’s Syndrome coupled with severe learning difficulties, came 3rd overall to secure All Round bronze.
“It was all good - I liked everything,” said Andrew, who also enjoyed being part of endless selfies and going out dancing. “He loved his time in Los Angeles and was excited to meet people from all over the world,” added mum Helen.
“He earned the title ‘Andrew the Gent’ from his coaches as he welcomed everyone he met with a smile, a handshake and a personal introduction of, ‘Hello, I am Andrew and I am 30 years old.’ ”
Andrew’s coach since 2013, Michael Roberts from Lincoln Gymnastics Club, was also selected to attend The Games as coach to the GB squad.
“Representing Great Britain at the Special Olympics World Games is the highest accolade a disability sports person can receive and his (Andrew’s) sporting achievements are an inspiration to us all,” he said.
Andrew, one of around 6,500 athletes from 165 countries selected to compete in The Games, will add his latest medals to his burgeoning trophy cabinet - three silvers from the 2001 Special Olympics GB National Summer Games, four medals from the 2009 National Summer Games and four gold medals, two silver and Gold All Around at the 2013 Games.
Lincoln College, where Andrew studies horticulture, helped Andrew prepare for The Games by providing him with a year’s free membership to Deans Sport & Leisure.
Andrew was also supported by family friends and the local community to raise the funds needed for the trip to LA.
“Without the support of the local community, particularly Tealby Tennis Club and the village of Middle Rasen, getting him to this world event would have been so much more difficult - huge thanks to everyone for their support,” said Helen.
Special Olympics motto: Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.