A Rasen area gymnast will be heading to Los Angeles next year after being picked to represent Great Britain at the Special Olympic World Games.
Andrew McLaughlin, formerly of Glentham and now living in Middle Rasen, has been actively involved in gymnastics since 2000.
“Andrew is very excited about his selection,” said his mum Helen, “although he has no concept of how long he has to wait or the extensive training that will now be required for him to be at his peak in LA next year.”
So now the hard work begins for the 28-year-old, who has Downs Syndrome and severe learning difficulties.
As well as the training, Andrew has to raise £2,500 to cover the cost of his selection and trip to the competition.
In addition, he will need to be able to afford the monthly training weekends, which will take place at gymnasiums all over the UK.
“There is no funding or sponsorship available for Special Olympic athletes,” added Helen, “so suggestions for fundraising ideas will be gratefully received.”
Andrew trained initially in Crewe, Cheshire, with a disabilities gymnastics club and latterly at Lincoln Gymnastics Club and City of Hull Special Olympics Club.
He was invited to join the National Disabilities Gymnastic Display Team in 2002 and has represented British Gymnastics and his country in three world gymnaestradas, four Eurogym festivals and numerous festivals in the United Kingdom every year.
Andrew has also taken part in artistic gymnastic competitions for both Special Olympics and British Gymnastics.
He took part in the Special Olympics GB games in Cardiff 2001, Leicester 2009 and last summer in Bath, where he became Level 2 champion, gaining four gold medals, two silver medals and the ‘all round’ gold medal in his group.
And also selected for the 2015 World Games is Andrew’s coach at Lincoln Gymnastics Club Michael Roberts, who helped Andrew to his 2013 success, and will now be coach to the nine-gymnast squad for LA.
Anyone wishing to help provide ‘personal trainer’ type support to help Andrew build his fitness and strength can contact Andrew and his mum Helen through the Market Rasen Mail.
This is the highest honour a Special Olympics athlete can achieve – let’s get behind him and make this dream come true.