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22nd Apr 2020

Ex-student wins gold and silver medals in Special Olympics GB

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In the first week of February, in Crans Montana Switzerland, the Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) National Alpine Skiing Competition 2020 took place. In total there were ninety athletes competing in the competition, from teams all over Great Britain. Special Olympics GB has to be one of the country’s best kept secrets, the Winter Games in particular. To raise its profile, alongside the Olympic and Paralympic Games, SOGB CEO Michelle Carney travelled with the group to support and share the amazing achievements of these athletes.

Eleven of the athletes represented Surrey and one of those athletes was 20 year old Alice Willans from Farnham. This was Alice’s first winter nationals, and she came home with one gold and two silver medals in the first division of the Intermediate Female category. Alice said, “I had a brilliant week, it was even better that I thought it would be, I really enjoyed racing, skiing in Switzerland with my team, making new friends, being part of such an amazing competition and of course getting my first gold medal!”

Alice has autism and Mild Learning Difficulties and was a student at The Abbey School in Farnham. Just over a year ago, after hearing about people from her college being part of Aldershot Skiing for the Disabled (ASD) and going on ski trips with the club; she decided to join the club. After skiing at Aldershot with ASD for a few months, with a guide on the nursery slope, Alice’s progress was rapid. Always up for a challenge, she tried the Slalom on the main slope and really enjoyed it. Shortly afterwards her skill and commitment to the sport was spotted and Alice was asked to join the Special Olympics Surrey Ski Race team... and of course it was a resounding YES from Alice.

Then followed a year of training and competing, at Aldershot, Brentwood and Birmingham in the Intermediate Female category, 1st division. These were important steps to ensure that Alice would be race ready to take part in the GB Nationals. Alice’s mum Sam said ‘ Being part of Special Olympics has been more than just skiing, it’s opened up a whole new community of friends and opportunities for Alice; being a young woman with autism and learning difficulties can be lonely, but I think Alice’s smile says it all!’

Special Olympics GB (SOGB) is the largest provider of year-round, all ability sports programme in Great Britain and supports over 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities. Its competition pathways make Special Olympics Great Britain unique within the disability sports sector as it provides for athletes of all abilities, opportunities to compete and progress at local, national and international levels.

If you know someone with an intellectual disability or have one yourself, you like sports and enjoy being part of a community, look at the accredited Special Olympics clubs in Surrey, on the SOGB website; you never know where it could take you and the friends you could make!

What next for Alice? Having taken part in the Nationals she has applied for the World Games in 2021 and is eagerly waiting to see if she has been selected to represent TEAM GB!

By Alice Willans ( with a tiny bit of help from mum)

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