Special Olympics: GB Tennis Team players walk away with nine medals

29/03/2019

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The six tennis players representing GB at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi

A team of six tennis players from Great Britain are celebrating after winning a total of nine medals in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games.

The event, which is held once every two years, took place from 14 – 21 March in Abu Dhabi and saw teams from all over the world competing in 24 different sports. The six tennis players were part of Great Britain's overall team, which featured 128 individuals competing across 17 sports, in turn clinching a total of 169 medals throughout the week.

Heading into the event, GB's tennis team aimed to surpass their medal total from the 2015 World Games (five gold medals and one bronze medal). The team, led by Head Coach Mel Whitehead and Assistant Coach Lesley Whitehead, walked away with...

  • Ryan Caven, aged 15 from Lincolnshire – Gold in Men's Singles Division 4 (yellow ball) and Gold in Mixed Doubles Division 2 (yellow ball)
  • Jack Dickson, aged 20 from Troon - Gold in Men's Singles Division 2 (green ball) and Bronze in Men's Doubles Division 2 (yellow ball)
  • Lily Mills, aged 18 from Islington - Gold in Women's Singles Division 2 (yellow ball) and Gold in Mixed Doubles Division 2 (yellow ball)
  • Frances Smiley, aged 19 from Prestwick - Silver in Women's Singles Division 1 (orange ball) and fourth in Women's Doubles Division 1 (green ball)
  • Ben Tyler, aged 20 from Hampshire - Silver in Men's Singles Division 6 (yellow ball) and Bronze in Men's Doubles Division 2 (yellow ball)
  • Fiona Lane, aged 32 from Barnstaple - fourth in Women's Singles Division 2 (green ball) and fourth place in Women's Doubles Division 1 (green ball)

Whitehead said: “The GB team have trained so hard ever since their selection 15 months ago and all of their work has certainly paid off! Everyone performed exceptionally well given the very hot temperatures – with Lily Mills and Ryan Caven bringing home four gold medals between them. The Games were a fantastic experience for everyone involved and we’re thrilled to come back with nine medals!”

Special Olympics is for athletes with intellectual disabilities, including autism, Down's Syndrome and other learning disabilities. It is not an elite competition for only the very best, but is instead about personal achievement and reaching your own maximum potential. Athletes in every sport at the Special Olympics World Games are grouped by age, gender and ability – giving everyone a fair chance of winning.

There are no world records because each athlete, whether in the fastest or slowest division is valued and recognised equally. In every division, athletes receive an award (from gold, silver and bronze medals, through to fourth-eighth place ribbons). As a guide, athletes rated between 1.0 and 2.9 play mini red, 3.0 and 3.9 mini orange, 4.0 and 4.9 mini green and 5.0 and 8.0 play full court yellow ball tennis.

The team's success follows a good luck message from three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, who sent a video to the Special Olympics GB tennis team on the eve of the Games. 

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