Four of West Cheshire College’s students put in an awe-inspiring performance at this year’s Special Olympics, held in Sheffield last month, to achieve multi-medal success.
James Clarke, 18, Stuart Jones, 30, Daniel Kiersy, 19 and former student Jonathan Butler, 25 all living in Ellesmere Port, competed in a range of categories for table tennis and were amongst some 2,600 athletes to compete. This came following an extensive summer training period at West Cheshire College in conjunction with Premier 4 Sports Satellite Club, with sessions run by Aaron Beech.
Aaron, Table Tennis Coach, commented: “The Satellite Clubs help the athletes to reach their full potential, encouraging the students to enhance their skills and become more confident in their ability. Without this they would not have the coaching opportunities available to them.
“The athletes performed exceptionally and have come on leaps and bounds from where they were just three months ago, both as people and players. Premier 4 Sport has given us this opportunity and we are all immensely proud of their achievements.”
This year’s Special Olympics GB marked the tenth National Summer Games and was held for the second time in Sheffield. It is the country’s largest multi-sports event for athletes with intellectual disabilities, with athletes of all ages and abilities coming together from across the country to compete.
Stuart Jones achieved double silver success in the Men’s Division 2 Singles and Division 1 Doubles. Studying English at West Cheshire College, Stuart is not only an avid table tennis player, but he also enjoys football, reading and swimming.
The success didn’t end there with James Clarke taking gold in the Men’s Division 4 Singles and also winning the Men’s Division 3 Doubles, with his table tennis partner Daniel. James who is studying Occupational Studies Level 1 became known as ‘Mr Consistent’ at the competition due to his remarkable journey and massive improvement.
James said: “Coming to the club is the best part of my week”.
Aaron also commented: “James suffers from physical health issues, which limits the exercise and strain his body can endure. We therefore had to build James up in short bursts. Initially, James was quite reserved and he felt that he could not reach the targets we set for him. However, week after week James’ confidence grew, attaining bigger challenges and gaining a real sense of belonging. It’s brilliant to see how far James has come.”
Daniel Kiersy who claimed the title in the Men’s Division 3 Doubles alongside James also gained a bronze medal in the Men’s Division 8. Plus, Jonathan Butler also took the gold medal in the Men’s Division 8 Singles, came runner-up in the Mixed Doubles Division 4 competition, and took fourth place in the Men’s Division 2 Doubles. Both Daniel and Jonathan share a passion for football as enthusiastic Everton FC supporters and have significantly progressed since starting their table tennis journey.
Aaron went on to say: “It’s been a privilege to work with all these athletes and see how they tackle each challenge as individuals. It’s also been great to see them motivating each other throughout this period. I believe as coaches we have done a great job in setting a professional and creative environment that allowed the students to express themselves and take control of their own leaning experiences.
“This is a success story for everyone involved, starting with their coach and mentor Peter Miller who has been with them from the start of their journey and his Mum, Sue Miller who has travelled everywhere with them throughout the year, as well as a massive success for West Cheshire College and Premier 4 Sport.
“I would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers at our Ellesmere Port and Chester Table Tennis Centre (Premier Hub club) that have helped the athletes become better people. We are very proud of all the guys and are sure they will go on to become more successful”