A 30-year-old Lincoln College student has travelled to America to represent Great Britain in the Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles.
Andrew McLaughlin, who is studying horticulture and has Down’s Syndrome coupled with severe learning difficulties, is one of around 6,500 athletes from 165 countries selected to compete in The Games in Los Angeles.
Andrew, from Glentham near Market Rasen, will participate in the Gymnastics (Artistic) events scheduled to take place between July 30 and August 1.
Flying the flag for Great Britain, he even got the chance to brush shoulders with Michelle Obama at the official opening of the games on Saturday, July 25.
Andrew got his springboard into gymnastics in 2000 when he was invited to join a disabilities gymnastic group. One year later, he won three silver medals at the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games in Cardiff.
Since 2002 he has performed in many European countries and America with the British Gymnastics Disability Display Team.
More recently in 2013 at the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games in Bath, Andrew became Level 2 champion in the over-22s group gaining four gold medals, two silver medals and Gold All Around.
Strength and Fitness Consultant Bob Wilmington trained Andrew for 12 months alongside his coach Michael Roberts, from the Lincoln Gymnastics Club, who is also in Los Angeles.
Bob said he truly is an inspiration: “With the support of Lincoln College, which gave Andrew a year’s free membership to Deans Sport & Leisure, I worked with him five days a week which was in addition to his existing gymnastics training programme.
“After a few sessions of getting to know Drew, I was impressed by his dedication and determination to succeed. Representing Great Britain at the Special Olympics World Games is the highest accolade a disability sports person can receive and his athletic history is an inspiration to us all.”
Speaking about The Games Andrew said: “I hope to represent my country well, achieve the best level I can, meet lots of other athletes from all over the world and be a good ambassador for my sport.”