Overcoming Hurdles at the Special Olympics

Julie Latcham, Marketing and Communications Manager, Holistic Horizons Support Services, recently supported 3 of their talented clients to attend the Special Olympics National Games held in Launceston Tasmania 17-22 October 2022. Talking to Developing Australian Communities this week Julie described the experience and the amazing efforts of those she was supporting. Mr Night, Co-founder and Director at Developing Australian Communities has attended many Special Olympics events and this year’s games were another great achievement by athletes.

Opened by Federal Minister for the NDIS, The Hon. Bill Shorten, the event was an opportunity for Ethan, Shaun and Breanna to shine, and shine they did amongst the more than 1000 attendees.

Ethan Chan, participant of Holistic Horizons and their client ambassador, won Gold and Silver medals in Ten Pin Bowling and was also previously a world champion swimmer before he had a shoulder injury. Ethan has participated in the Special Olympics for the past 18 years. Shaun Mckee, another participant of Holistic Horizons, won Bronze medals in the men’s 5km and 10km runs and placed 5th in the men’s 100M run. He has participated in the Special Olympics for 11 years. Breanna Halpin, daughter of one of Holistic Horizon’s support workers, won Gold medals for the Relay run and Javelin, as well as, Bronze in the 200m running event. She has participated in the Special Olympics for 2 years.

“Their training in the lead up to the games was evidenced by their performances and their success as they joined together with other participants and their families to enjoy a celebration of achievement, said Mr Night.

“The feats of endurance, perseverance and heroism were on full display as they challenged themselves to their limits and beyond to compete and win in the pursuit of athletic excellence, camaraderie and friendship, said Mr Night.

“The opening and closing ceremonies were described by those attending as a celebration of pure joy seen in the smiles of participants and their supporters, whose commitment to training for the events in the lead up to the games and their dedication to their performances in their chosen sports, were awe inspiring.

“The opening and closing ceremonies were fantastic with amazing performances from the Australian Army Band”, Julie said.

“I was highly involved in the Games, being one of the Event Announcers for the Athletics events as well as the Athletics presentation ceremony.

“I felt parts of the Games were very well organised but others needed more structure. Julie explained, Ethan was disappointed in the fact that he was not able to explore the town of Launceston and had to stay with his team the entire time, even if they were doing nothing.

“I felt it would have been nice if he got to see more of Launceston whilst he was there with his fellow athletes and friends. Ethan wanted to come with me one afternoon to check out the Cataract Gorge River for a walk around, and maybe get a cuppa but he wasn’t allowed.

“I thought the main disappointment, however, was the lack of awareness and media coverage of what was an inspirational event filled with great stories of triumph that were worthy of being shared with the wider community. That lack of coverage resulted in few in the Launceston community aware that the event was on, impacting crowd numbers and attendance across the five days and missing an opportunity to see these amazing athletes in action.

“My only wish is that more people in Launceston knew that the Special Olympics was on. Some did know but a lot of locals did not know. Hopefully, this will change with time. I honestly thought that something like the Special Olympics would be newsworthy and that one of the TV Channels would pick up the story and air it at prime time, just as they do with the general Olympics.The showcasing of the potential and ability of these extraordinary people was worthy of primetime coverage.

“I was happy that Ethan was recognised in his home state of Queensland, which has one of the biggest teams in the Special Olympics. Ethan was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in an official ceremony presented by Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeanette Young, Governor of Queensland at Government House.

“We are very proud that Ethan was also awarded the prestigious Gold medal for representing Australia in the World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019 for swimming – well done Ethan!

“Her Excellency Dr Jeanette Young, treated every single one of the Special Olympics athletes with such incredible humility, pride, compassion, respect and honour. Ethan and I enjoyed chatting to her and the other athletes while having afternoon tea and admiring the amazing Queensland Government House.

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