THE gong for the Special Olympics in Dublin has gone to two sporting champions from the Brookfields Gymnastic Club.
Kemlyn Shard, 12, of Norton Wood Lane, Runcorn, and Marie Wilson, 22, of Shelley Road, Widnes, proved their weight in gold when they headed back home from the Olympics with a string of medals under their belt.
The youngsters both trained at the Widnes gymnastics club on Kingsway Road to qualify for this year's indoor event, which was held at the Royal Dublin's Indoor Society Arena.
Kemlyn returned triumphant in seventh place as the youngest competitor in the Great British Team, while Marie is still fresh from finishing off with overall gold status.
It is the first time both gymnasts have displayed their gymnastic skills at an overseas event, with Marie receiving silver on the beam and vault and Kemlyn gaining silver accolades for his efforts on the floor and high bar.
Marie qualified with an individual bronze medal on the asymmetric bar, and notched up a third silver medal for successfully completing the apparatus circuit.
Club secretary Julie Shard said: 'Marie and Kemlyn had a marvellous time, and both of them really enjoyed the event.
'They particularly liked the opening and closing ceremonies where they put on a grand fireworks display, and there was also a large celebrity presence cheering the athletes on from the audience.
'Kemlyn got the opportunity to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pierce Brosnan, and so it's certainly an occasion he's never likely to forget.
'When you think that 123 started the competition and he came seventh overall, and Marie gained gold status, they've both done really well.'
She added: 'My younger son Keegan is very proud of his older brother and he does a lot of work himself at Brook-fields, helping to teach some of our older disabled gymnasts.
'He's great with them, as even though a lot of them are older than him, he never looks down on them, and he also helps to lift the strain from the coaches who do a lot of hard work at the club!'
The Dublin event marks the first year that the specialist Olympic Games have been hosted outside America in its 35-year history - and plans are now in place for Marie and Kemlyn to travel to Newcombe Acliffe near Durham in a bid to keep hold of their winning titles of overall champions of British gymnastics.
* The Brookfields Club which caters for children and young adults with learning disabilities announced this week that it will be opening its doors in future to wheelchair-bound athletes.
For more information, contact club secretary Julie Shard on 01928 751170.