Special Olympics the target for Island athletes

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That is the aim of JSAD’s chairman, Paul Patterson, who said that if Jersey don’t apply on their own, they will almost certainly apply alongside Guernsey, to make it a combined Channel Islands bid to compete in the Games.’We are hoping to apply for full Special Olympics standing next year,’ he said.

‘In the past we have been unable to do so, because we could only offer three core sports when the requirements are four.’We can offer boccia (a kind of bowls), swimming and, of course, special gymnastics.

What John Grady and his team have done at Mont à l’Abbé is tremendous – they are now well-respected at international as well as national level.’However, until recently we didn’t have a fourth core sport.

Now we do – football.’The JSAD’s involvement with that fourth key sport came about partly by accident, when Patterson bumped into Charlie Brown, secretary of St Paul’s Football Club.St Paul’s were, at the time, applying for community status and were quite happy to look after a group of footballers with learning difficulties.

Now 12 of them regularly train at the club.On the eve of the JSAD Disabled Games, which begin at Fort Regent and Les Ormes next Friday, Patterson explained his reasoning behind sending competitors to the Special Olympics, which are for athletes with learning difficulties.’As the JSAD has grown, so some of our members have shown they want to do more than participate,’ he said.

‘They now want to compete.’So, during the Games weekend, which will see a large squad from Guernsey taking part, Patterson will be talking through the JSAD initiative with his Sarnian counterpart.’Guernsey’s football team are the powerhouse side,’ he said, adding that other sports during the Games will be boccia, swimming, wheelchair basketball, bowls, wheelchair tennis and special gymnastics.Once the Games are over, he will turn his attention to having either Jersey, or Jersey/Guernsey redefined as ‘a country’ so that islanders will be able to compete, probably in Australia, in four years’ time.

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