Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Basketballers bring home gold and silver

Echuca Special Olympics basketball team won a gold and silver medal at the Winter State Games.

ERIN LYONS August 2, 2014 3:04am

Echuca Special Olympics athletes recently competed in the Winter State Games in Pakenham.

The Echuca Special Olympics basketball team has arrived home from the Winter State Games competition in Pakenham with two medals.

Bearing a gold and silver, the group of athletes aged from six to 66 are extremely proud to return to their home town brandishing the goods.

C grade came home with the gold and D grade with the silver.

Club head coach Maggi Smith said four of her players had demonstrated the required skills to be selected to represent their state at the National Games held at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in October.

‘‘We’re very proud of where they have come from over the last year, their skills are certainly improving,’’ she said.

The Echuca-based teams compete at the state and regional games every year.

Krystelle Lloyd, who plays for the Southern Saints in St Kilda, and Mark Hitchinson, who represents Ballarat, will be joined at the nationals by teammates Leigh Madgwick and Jaymee-Leigh Upton.

The four basketballers are looking to be selected for the national squad where they will head to Los Angeles next year to represent Australia at the Special Olympics Worlds Summer Competition.

Smith was excited about the prospect and said she was eager to attend.

‘‘I’ve put my name down for everything. All sorts of jobs, anything. I would just love to go,’’ she said.

It was the response from the athletes after the competition that was the most heart-warming, Smith said.

Aside from the competitive aspect of the tournament, Smith said the emotional achievement meant more than the medal.

‘‘Their reactions to winning their first medals was amazing,’’ she said.

‘‘They all loved showing off their winnings. Normally you wouldn’t get this kind of reaction.

‘‘It’s hard to say who the standouts are because to me, they are all standouts in their own rights.’’

The organisation hopes to promote the competition by welcoming anyone who is interested.

Individuals of all ages and abilities will be greeted with open arms.

‘‘We welcome anyone to the club, including parents and carers,’’ she said.

‘‘We really just want to promote the sport.’’

The Echuca special basketball team trains on Tuesdays from 3.30pm until 4.30pm at the Stubberfield Group Basketball Stadium.

Smith’s daughter is also a member of the team and she enjoyed watching her skills mature among friends in a sociable environment.

‘‘They just love it,’’ she said.

More than 1000 athletes with intellectual disabilities will represent their state or territory at the Special Olympics Australia National Competition at MSAC in October.

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