Golden double for Heanor sprinter Jacob at Special Olympics

Dual gold medal-winning athlete Jacob Smalley, from Heanor, who starred at the Special Olympics National Games.
Dual gold medal-winning athlete Jacob Smalley, from Heanor, who starred at the Special Olympics National Games.

Heanor athlete Jacob Smalley pulled off a gold-medal double when he represented the East Midlands at the Special Olympics National Games competition, held in Sheffield.

Sprinter Jacob, who runs for the Amber Valley and Erewash Athletics Club, was one of five athletes from Derbyshire at the Games, and he returned home with golds from the 100m and the 200m.

Alongside him were Adam Race and Michelle Burke from Glossop and also Mark Pearson and Danny Wade from Chesterfield who all took part in what is the country’s largest multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Michelle won gold in the women’s basketball, while Danny won a silver in the boccia singles.

During the week’s competition, more than 2,600 athletes of all ages and abilities took part, supported by coaches, volunteers, family and friends.

One of the coaches, Gill Hawketts, said: “It was a tremendous competition. The volunteers were outstanding in helping to make it a great experience for the athletes.”

In Derbyshire, there are several clubs that offer training opportunities for people with learning disabilities in different sports, including football, tennis, table tennis and cycling. All are backed by the Special Olympics Derbyshire voluntary network.