Olympic gold medal-winning gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner put on a masterclass for a group of Special Olympics Great Britain athletes recently.
Comaneci, who is the head judge for BBC One’s new show Tumble, came to Sidcup near London to support some of her favourite athletes from Special Olympics – one of whom, Hannah Westerman, is part of the rhythmic gymnastics team training for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Los Angeles.
Special Olympics GB is the largest registered charity providing year round sports training and competition opportunities for thousands of people with learning disabilities.
“I have always been impressed with the abilities of athletes of Special Olympics,” said Comaneci, who won 3 gold medals at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. “Their determination to overcome their many challenges is truly inspiring. I was also proud to witness a gymnast from Cuba score the first "Perfect 10” in the history of Special Olympics back in 1999 in North Carolina."
Conner, who was a member of three Olympic Teams in 1976, 1980 and 1984, and won 2 gold medals in the latter, added: “As a volunteer for over 35 years, I have seen the true magic of Special Olympics, and how, one athlete at a time, Special Olympics changes perceptions about people with intellectual challenges. I am eager to work with the gymnasts as well as help highlight the good work being done by Special Olympics Great Britain.”
Westerman, who is a 10-time national champion, said: “It was incredible to meet Nadia and Bart who do so much for Special Olympics across the world. They gave me great encouragement in the build up to the World Games in LA next year. Nadia was giving me tips on how I can improve and that was amazing.”