A THRILLED Yate mum has spoken of her “immense pride” at a prestigious sporting honour granted to her disabled daughter, writes Simon Parkinson.
Christina Williams watched on in delight with her husband Roger as ten-year-old Sian Williams was called up to receive the Aspiring Young Disability Sportsperson accolade at the council-led South Gloucestershire Sports Awards 2012, held at the BAWA Club in Filton.
Sian, who attends the Ridge Junior School in Yate, was born with Down Syndrome and has suffered many health setbacks related to the condition.
Yet she has overcome adversity by partaking in gymnastics on a regular basis, at both her school and at the town’s highly-popular King Edmund Gym Club, whose backing led to Sian picking up the engraved glass plaque from BBC Bristol sports producer Geoff Twentyman and council chairman Janet Biggin.
Christina glowed: “Sian was always painfully shy, but when her name was called out at the awards she leapt up from her seat and was gone. She stood there at the front, beamed at everyone and waved to the crowd, just like a little superstar.
“Performing has really brought her out of her shell and it’s great that a top acrobatic gym club like King Edmund, where she attends twice a week, is willing to give youngsters with special needs a chance.
“Hopefully it will inspire other people with disabled children of their own to have a go at achieving something like this as it can be done, with the right level of support.”
Fittingly one of Sian’s regular mentors - a ‘buddy’ coach - at King Edmund Gym Club, 16-year-old Shanie-Redd Thorne, was runner-up in the Aspiring Young Sportsperson category on the same evening.
“Shanie-Redd does one-on-one sessions with Sian on Saturdays and she and the other coaches and gymnasts have given her (Sian) a real focus,” Christina said.
“Sian is so enthusiastic, despite having severe hypermobility of her joints. She doesn’t have the same muscle strength as the others and she’s tiny for her age.
“She can do forward and backward rolls and basic balancing work with the assistance of the more able-bodied gymnasts, although when her health problems return, she’s back in a wheelchair and people sometimes find that hard to comprehend.”
“Sian benefits too from having so many caring siblings, James (7), Bethan (5) and Andrew (2), who are all keen gymnasts with King Eddies.”
King Edmund GC manager Mark Thorne, father of Shanie-Redd who nominated Sian for that disability distinction, enthused: “It’s a first for our club to be associated with a disability award and it’s something we’re looking to develop once we move into our new premises at Yate Leisure Centre.
“We’re proud of Shanie-Redd too. She really enjoys working with Sian and other children with disabilities at the club and she’s hoping to build on a very successful year herself by gaining selection at senior level for Great Britain in next year’s World Games and European Championships.
“She couldn’t have done it without her partner Danielle Jones, who herself has had a fantastic year in gaining a world championship bronze and becoming British champion alongside Shanie.”