MID North Coast will send a strong contingent of sportspeople to next week’s Special Olympics in Adelaide.
The largest representation will come in the ten-pin bowling division as up to 15 bowlers challenge themselves against the best in Australia.
They will also compete other sports such as equestrian and golf.
Mid North Coast Special Olympics Committee vice-chairman Ralph Mueller was hopeful of returning with some medals from the South Australian capital.
“Last year we did pretty well and a lot of people got into the medals,” he said.
“This year, if they get a gold medal in the single divisions they have a chance of qualifying for the Australian team in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
“That is a top goal for all of the athletes.”
More than 1000 athletes from around the country will vie for the top positions with all states represented with New South Wales fielding the largest team of about 270 athletes.
“It’s a big event, everyone is hoping to do their best and we’ll see how we go,” Mueller said.
The vice-chairman preferred not to put a specific number of medals as a goal for the New South Wales team.
“That puts too much pressure on the team,” he said.
“We have quite a few first-timers going to nationals where out of the team of 14 there is about seven or eight first-timers which means nerves will play a part.
“It’s also the unknown of the games having never been away to one so it can be a bit unsettling.”
Mueller said the Special Olympics gave the teams an opportunity to showcase their skills in a number of different sports.
“Instead of being tagged with a disability they are people that do have skills,” he said.
“This is one avenue to showcase these same skills as able-bodied people where they can hold their own against anybody else.
“It builds up their self-esteem and gets them out in the public eye which a lot of them haven’t been exposed to before.”
The opening ceremony will be held on April 16 with the closing ceremony to be held on April 20.