Bexhill ace wins medal treble at top national event

Kirsty Stewart with her medals at the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Sheffield.
Kirsty Stewart with her medals at the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Sheffield.

Two Bexhill Swimming Club and Special Olympics Hastings & Rother members successfully competed in the Special Olympics National Summer Games.

Kirsty Stewart won three medals and Tristan Curtis achieved two fourth places in an event held at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield.

Stewart won gold in the 50m breaststroke, silver in the 4x50m freestyle relay and bronze in the 25m breaststroke, while Curtis was narrowly beaten to the medals in the 50m and 100m freestyle.

They both swam for the South East Region team, which was represented by a total of 20 swimmers from Sussex and Kent.

The South East swimming team won a total of 13 gold, 14 silver and seven bronze medals - a fantastic result at such a major competition.

Head coach Ian Stewart was absolutely delighted for all the swimmers as they had all trained very hard since the previous games in Bath in 2013.

The Special Olympics National Summer Games are held every four years and this time there were more than 2,600 athletes with an intellectual disability taking part in 20 different sports, making it the largest disability multi-sport event in the country this year.

Sheffield University Halls of Residence Campus became the Games Village and was where all the athletes and coaches stayed.

The opening ceremony was held at Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United Football Club. In pouring rain, all the 17 regional teams paraded around the ground and were entertained with acrobats, gymnasts and pop stars, including Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet fame.

The police, who had run the Flame of Hope around Yorkshire in the days leading up to the Games, arrived with the torch, but due to the rain, it was unable to light the flame. Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Disability, attended and duly declared the Games open.

The closing ceremony at the pool included Jessica Jane Applegate MBE, the S14 swimmer who won gold in the 200m freestyle at the London 2012 Paralympics and who also gained two silvers and a bronze at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Stewart was introduced to her poolside.

Curtis and Stewart are back in training and hope to compete at four further swimming galas before the end of the year, including the Sussex County Masters in Burgess Hill this month.