Medals have been awarded at the Special Olympics National Summer Games Sailing Competition in Adelaide, South Australia.
Queensland topped the Gold Medal count with two, while New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory claimed one Gold apiece.
Held every four years, the Special Olympics National Summer Games include a variety of sporting competitions for people with an intellectual disability. Sailing was included for the first time in 2010 and drew entries from five States and Territories.
The regatta comprised six races for each Level sailed over three days at the Adelaide Sailing Club at West Beach. The club did a magnificent job of hosting the regatta and the sun shone every day. Wind conditions were light for the first two days and the strong tidal flow made the course challenging for all. The two-person Levels were sailed in Access 303s and the single-person Level in the Access 2.3 class sailboats.
In the Level 1 competition where the Special Olympics athlete controls the headsail, Bradley Alderton (NSW) sailed with Unified Partner Colin Alderton to claim Gold ahead of Melissa Nelson (NSW) and Bruce Schofield in the Silver Medal position. Another NSW team and a local SA team also participated.
Sarah Millsom (VIC), sailing with Unified Partner Alison Weatherly, finished with a first and second placing on the last day to claim the Gold Medal in the Level 2 competition. Silver went to Stephen Ponder (ACT) with Michael Leydon, while Alyse Saxby (NSW) combined with Robert Hamilton for the Bronze. In this level, the Special Olympics athlete must helm for the entirety of the race.
Two Special Olympics athletes sail together in the Level 4 competition. Belinda Hill and Sonja Gilmour (QLD) dropped their first race but then sailed consistently well to grab the Gold Medal on a count-back from Bronwyn Ibbotson and Allister Peek (ACT) who had to be satisfied with Silver. Warren Hawkins and Adam Knust (QLD) won the Bronze Medal.
In a stand-out personal achievement, Belinda Hill (QLD) backed up her Gold in Level 4 with an individual Gold Medal in the Level 5 Solo Female competition. Bronwyn Ibbotson (ACT) claimed the Silver Medal and Rachel Ward (NSW) took Bronze.
In the Level 5 Solo Male division, Allister Peek (ACT) posted three wins to claim the Gold Medal. Martin Waller (VIC) won the Silver Medal, while Mark Thorpe (VIC) won the Bronze. Martin and Mark both also have profound physical disabilities and used servo-electric equipment to operate their boats.
Results of the event will be used to select an Australian Team for the Special Olympics World Summer Games Sailing Competition to be held in Athens, Greece next year.