Special olympian torch run
15-YEAR-OLD PICKED FOR SPECIAL OLYMPICS WINTER GAMES 2013
GARDAI AND members of the PSNI will hold a torch run in Bray on Thursday to support Special Olympian Stuart Brierton.
The Torch Run will begin at St. Patrick's National School at 1 p.m. on Thursday and will run up the Vevay Hill past all the schools and Tesco to arrive at the gates of Newcourt School for 1.15 p.m.
Stuart will meet the runners and bring the Olympic Flame into the school.
Stuart and his family would be so happy if as many of the townspeople of Bray would come out to support the Torch Run.
You can follow Ireland's progress on www.specialolympics.ie/wintergames and also on Facebook: stuarts special olympic journey WHILE many boys his age are busy with their PlayStations, iPods and computers, Stuart Brierton just doesn't have the time for all that. He is on a mission.
Stuart, a student at New Court School in Bray, will be representing Ireland in alpine skiing at the Special Olympic World Winter Games in South Korea this year.
He is a member of the Bray Lakers, which is a club for people with special needs, and is one of six athletes to be chosen to represent Ireland. Of the six skiers on Team Ireland, three are from the North and three from the South of Ireland. Stuart is the youngest member from Team Ireland and the only boy from Bray to be picked for the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea.
Stuart has shown his dedication right from the start and was even prepared to sacrifice his tai chi class at school to train on the ski slopes of Kilternan every Tuesday. He maintained this was hard to do, but was prepared to take whatever measures were necessary to represent his country.
The 15-year-old said a trip to the Austrian ski slopes was part of his training for the games and essentially his first introduction to real snow, as previously he trained on a dry slope. Its purpose was to prepare him for one of the largest winter multi-sport events ever to be held in South Korea. Stuart felt that the real snow was much easier to ski on, and faster too. He said it was exciting to be exposed to real snow.
It's been a journey of courage as Stuart travelled without his parents and the comforts of home. He was exposed to a new country and culture, and faced new skiing challenges. Stuart recalled that his first day was difficult on arrival at the Austrian hostel, but after a few days he got used to it.
Adapting to the food was difficult but he tried to eat as much of it as he could even when it was new to him. He has been put on a special diet, being encouraged by Barbara from Special Olympics to eat healthy food. According to Stuart, the cold climate presented little difficulty as he was well equipped.
Another challenge with which he coped well was meeting new people for the first time. Stuart maintains he had little difficulty and he got on very well with two coaches from Germany, and he also made a new Romanian friend. He is looking forward to meeting and spending more time with these people again in Korea.
Stuart is very fit and active in all kinds of sports. He is popular boy with a sunny disposition and outgoing personality and humour and his enthusiasm for life is apparent.
He goes skiing twice weekly, plays basketball, badminton, bowling and tennis, and swims with the Bray Lakers.
Mum Karen Brierton told this newspaper that it was the Bray Lakers that gave him the opportunity to participate in sport, which might otherwise have been denied him.
So how did he feel when he found he had been chosen to represent Ireland in South Korea? Stuart recalled that he was so happy when he got word that he went upstairs and did a victory dance, which he was quite happy to demonstrate during the interview. Stuart said his friends reacted well and gave him great support, which he really appreciated and is thankful for.
He has taken part in various fundraising projects, including table quizzes and bag-packing ventures and a cake sale at his own school. The local community, especially Ardmore Residents' Association, has also given great support to him, for which he is very thankful. He is also being supported by Special Olympics Ireland.
The games will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from January 26 to February 6, 2013. This is the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games. Nearly 3,300 athletes from 112 countries will come together along with more than 15,000 family, friends and volunteers.
Pyeongchang is situated in the Gangwon province in the Taebaek Mountain region. Pyeongchang hosts many festivals during the year including a trout festival. It will be put firmly on the map as it and will host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Stuart won't be travelling with his mum and dad Karen and Tony, as parents aren't allowed to accompany the Olympic team. They will, however, all catch up later and according to Karen the opening ceremony on Tuesday, January 29, is not to be missed.
With a long 10-hour flight ahead and a two-hour bus journey from Seoul, Stuart will prepare by bringing games to keep himself entertained as well as a stash of healthy cereal bars. He intends to pace himself by resting on the airplane. This flight will be a pleasure as he is keen on aviation and uses a computer flight simulator. Another hobby is constructing model airplanes. He said he won't be doing the victory dance on the plane on the way over but will have a good long walk before he travels.
Stuart has been involved with the Special Olympics for nine years. He qualified for the Korea Olympics last April by winning two gold medals in grand slalom and giant slalom. Giant slalom is an alpine skiing discipline and involves skiing between sets of poles. In grand slalom each gate is long, giving sweeping directional change.
Stuart is no stranger to competitive sports as he took part in the national games in Limerick 2010 in bowling.
These games bring public attention to the talents and skills of people with varied ability, helping to change attitudes and breaking down barriers. All of this hard work and training has paid off and now he's about to reap the rewards. He is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.