Special athletes return with swag of medals
FOUR smiling faces, 10 medals, a lifetime of memories.
Four Gladstone athletes returned from the Special Olympics Australia National Games with a lot more than they had expected.
After heading into the competition just hopeful of bringing home silverware, Adam Knust, Ruby Lawler, Kerrod Hamilton and Jarrod Lee all returned with medals.
Goalkeeping for the Queensland football team, Adam Knust was only a goal away from the gold, going down to South Australia 2-1 in the grand final.
"We played hard to get the ball and we did our best," Knust said.
"I played well for all of it, I only let in a few goals and I saved a lot. I am so excited for my soccer team."
Ruby Lawler didn't miss a medal in any of her swim events, claiming five in total.
Winning silver in the 1500m open water freestyle, an event she had not competed in before, boosted her confidence.
Lawler is now hoping to step up to international level.
"I want to do the World Games - they are the long term goal," she said. "I have not found out if I got in yet."
Kerrod Hamilton was one of two of the Gladstone swimmers to bring back a gold.
Hamilton has not stopped smiling since, and won't stop holding his medals either, after fearing he'd lost them.
"I was looking in my room, they were in the garage," Hamilton said with a laugh.
"I was nervous and happy, I couldn't stop smiling."
The future also looks bright for the youngest athlete in the bunch, 13-year-old Jarrod Lee.
Lee brought home two gold from the event, an achievement which had his mum Karen screaming on the pool deck.
"I sat there chilling in the pool looking at my time to see if I won or not, mum screamed," he said.
The medal haul
- Adam Knust - Silver, soccer
- Ruby Lawler - Silver, 400m freestyle, 1500m freestyle, 200m freestyle. Bronze, 200m IM, 4x100m freestyle relay
- Kerrod Hamilton - Gold, 100m backstroke. Silver, 4x100m mixed relay
- Jarrod Lee - Gold, 50m relay, 50m butterfly