Oamaru swimmer Liam Bartley cannot wait to get to the Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games.
Held every four years, the event takes place in Wellington from November 21 to December 1 with more than 2200 athletes, coaches and support staff expected to attend.
Liam (20) will compete in the freestyle and butterfly events, likely over 25m and 100m distances.
He is also considering contesting the 400m events.
Liam, who grew up in Australia and has been swimming since the age of 12, has lived in Oamaru for about three years. Before representing North Otago, he trained with the full Mid Canterbury squad when he lived in Ashburton.
This year will mark the second time he has competed at the national games, after finishing fourth in the 25m, 50m and 100m freestyle in Dunedin in 2013. He also finished second in the 4x25m freestyle relay.
Liam is excited about the prospect of potentially bringing home a national games medal. Medallists also qualify for the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
He took his swimming seriously and looked forward to the challenge that awaited him in Wellington.
“I can be competitive sometimes and I’ll lose sleep over it.”
Liam’s mother, Sharon, who will accompany him to Wellington and is also the North Otago team’s co-coach, said she was proud of her son’s achievements.
“Very much. He’s done extremely well. He really puts in the effort.
“He’s just started the butterfly .. his times are right up there.”
She expected he would continue with his swimming, which had had a positive impact on his life.
“It’s good for him and gives him confidence. He’s made a lot of friends through Special Olympics.”
Sixteen North Otago athletes will compete at the games in swimming, bocce and tenpin bowling.
Meanwhile, part of the games’ torch run will be in Oamaru on October 5.
Special Olympics North Otago secretary Sue Rudduck said the torch run would start from the Oamaru police station, head north along Thames St to the BP station, then go south to the Waitaki District Council building in lower Thames St.
One torch leaves Bluff and another leaves Kaitaia in the lead-up to the games, meeting in Wellington before the opening ceremony.
“For us, it’s trying to get as many athletes involved in the games as we can,” she said.