Gold rush for Pontefract athletes during Special Olympics

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Athletes have returned home with wide smiles and arms full of medals after doing team Yorkshire proud in the Special Olympics.

Members of Able2, Pontefract Pirates and Special Olympics Wakefield competed in the national games, for people with intellectual and learning disabilities, last week.

And between them they took eight gold positions, six silvers and 12 bronze places.

Steve Peace, chairman of Able2, said: “Our delegation had a fantastic week. The athletes themselves, the parents and families and the whole Yorkshire team were thrilled and very proud of all the achievements. It was a tremendous social experience for them as well as their sporting success.”

The group sent 11 athletes from Upton, Ackworth, Hemsworth, Featherstone, Pontefract, Notton, Sandal and Altofts to compete in athletics, equestrian and swimming. They brought home four golds, three silver medals and seven bronzes.

They joined 12 swimmers, bowlers and footballers from Wakefield and 11 footballers from Pontefract Pirates. Together, they competed as part of the games’ Yorkshire and Humberside team.

Pontefract Pirates members played as part of four teams with others from across the county. The group returned with one gold and two bronze medals as well as a fourth place. Manager Trevor Waddington said: “It was fantastic, very tiring as there was lots going on every day, from meeting famous people like Gareth Southgate, to competing and socialising.

“Their achievements were brilliant, but it wasn’t just about the football, it was about the whole experience and the friends they have made.”

Doreen Manousios of Special Olympics Wakefield said: “Our athletes had an absolutely fabulous time. The ones that hadn’t been before relished the experience.

“All of them embraced the whole time they had there. I’m very proud of them, really pleased with their achievements.”

The branch took two silver spots in the triples indoor bowling and three gold medal positions in the pairs indoor bowling. They also won two bronze medals from football and a bronze and silver from aquatics.