Article by Katie Feehan: Two young footballers have been crowned world champions as part of Team GB’s victory at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi.
Jack Wells, 21, from Southend, and Reece Johnson, 20, from Billericay, made up the 11-man soccability squad which flew out to the United Arab Emirates to compete in the Special Olympics.
Yesterday morning they were crowned world champions after beating Australia 3-1 in the final. The team came back from a 1-0 deficit to take gold under the scorching sun at the World Games, leaving the UK at the top of the medals table.
Both Jack and Reece play for Porters Soccability team, a club founded in 2014 and based in Thundersley. Club secretary Tim Staines said the news was just reward for the pair’s efforts. He added:
“It’s an absolutely fantastic achievement; they’ve both been training really hard since they were selected for the squad. They’ve been to train at St George’s Park where the England squad train, so they’ve had access to top notch facilities. We are all very proud of them - both the lads and their parents because it has been a massive commitment for them both in terms of time spent travelling the country for training and financially.”
Each athlete had to raise £2,500 to fund their participation in the Special Olympics. The secretary added:
“It should raise the profile of disability sport and it is a growing phenomenon as people recognise what sport can do for young people. Both Jack and Reece have really thrived since joining the club and grown in confidence. They have also been excellent ambassadors for the PORTERS Soccability club and for disability sport in general. All the club’s members have taken an interest in their selection and as a club we are justifiably proud of their achievements.”
Team GB are top of the table with just one day of the games to go with 102 medals in total - 43 golds, 27 silvers and 22 bronze medals.
Michelle Carney, CEO of Special Olympics Great Britain:
"Words cannot describe the feelings I have for the 128 athletes that make up the Special Olympic Great Britain team. They've not only performed amazingly well, but they have entered into the spirit of these games 110 per cent and been amazing ambassadors for Great Britain. Hearing some of the heartbreaking stories that most of these athletes have experienced in their lives and then witnessing what they have achieved in Abu Dhabi and through our weekly Special Olympics GB sport programme, makes me so proud. Special Olympics GB is a life-changing charity for people with Intellectual Disabilities and these World Games prove that beyond doubt."
Article by The Echo