People with learning disabilities have competed in the Commonwealth Games and taken part in the pre-event Queen’s Baton relay over the past week.
Northern Irish swimmer Bethany Firth (pictured), a gold medallist from the London 2012 Paralympics, switched from her usual S14 category (for swimmers with learning difficulties) to compete against able-bodied athletes for the first time in the heats of the 50m freestyle and 100m backstroke this weekend [26/27 July].
Speaking after finishing sixth in the backstroke on Sunday, Firth: “It’s great to be competing in mainstream events and the atmosphere is amazing.
“Team NI is really close and we all looking out for each other. I’m looking forward to following my other Paralympic team-mates in their events.”
There was another first for British swimmers with learning disabilities on Saturday as England’s Tom Hamer set a new British record to win silver and Wales’ Jack Thomas took bronze in the Games first-ever event for the S14 class.
S14 events feature only swimmers with learning disabilities, and Australia’s Dan Fox set a new world best time in claiming gold.
Incredible honour Before the events got underway, Govan-based Leanne Carmichael (pictured), who has a learning disability and cerebral palsy, carried the Queen’s Baton during its journey to the opening Ceremony at Celtic Park on Wednesday [23 July].
She was chosen to carry the baton through her hometown thanks to her dedication to raising thousands of pounds for local good causes including Elder Grove, a supported living service for adults with learning disabilities, in which she also has her own tenancy.
Elder Grove is run by social care charity Community Integrated Care and their regional manager for Glasgow, Gillian McConnell, said: “Nobody is more deserving of this incredible honour than Leanne – her devotion to living a full life and giving back to her local community, despite the many challenges she faces in life, is incredible.
“Watching Leanne carry the baton on its final journey through Govan was a very fulfilling and emotional moment. She should be very proud that she will forever be part of the history of such an inspirational and important event.”