The Special Olympians Moreton North (SOMN) are about to start a journey which could take them from Morayfield to Berlin, via Tasmania.
Once every four years the Special Olympics Queensland State Games is a gateway to the national and world titles for athletes with an intellectual disability.
After the official South East Queensland State Games opening ceremony at Morayfield Sports and Events Centre on March 7, SOMN will have around 60 members in 14 sports over four weekends.
All have been training hard, often most days of the week in multiple sports, at different venues, while also working or becoming job ready.
SOMN has, over the years, been well represented at National and World Games in swimming, athletics, soccer, tennis, golf, basketball and gymnastics, with gold medalists at both levels.
"For some of our athletes this will be their first State Games," says Sally Gallaway, Secretary of Special Olympics Moreton North.
"Whether it is their first or they have competed in numerous State Games, they will be trying their hardest to do the best they can do."
The State Games sports include tennis, football and open water swimming in Redcliffe; swimming and equestrian at Burpengary and basketball in Morayfield.
From there the athlete's goal is the National Games in Launceston next year and the the World Games in Berlin in June 2023.
“Competing against their peers is really important,” said Sally Gallaway, Secretary of Special Olympics Moreton North.
“The local competitions are monthly or bimonthly, but state games bring everyone together in real competition," says Sally.
“There’s a social side of it as well, which is important as all the athletes have kept in touch with Facetime.
“Most of our guys are competitive, but they also have great sportsmanship. We wish every athlete competing all the best and enjoy.”
Sally said the main target for all was following the Special Olympics Athlete Moto: "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”.
Miles Fisher, from Bellmere, is the SOMN athletes’ representative and competing in both swimming and athletics over the next month.
He said the state games were “a great opportunity for the athletes to compete competitively because we don’t often get the chance and make friends, beat pbs”.
Tim Gould, from North Lakes, one of the most experienced at this level, said: “The State Games are good. I’m working hard to get fit for swimming and tennis … and play well.”
Ronan Heath-Bourke, of Burpengary East, said he was “looking forward to it. Swimming fast and trying to win a medal. Back stroke is my best.”
Special Olympics Moreton North, like all SO clubs, receives no government funding and families rely heavily on fundraising.
Any support will be gratefully received. Visit specialolympics.com.au/index.php/moretonnorth
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