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Josh produces a special effort

Josh Taylor will be Wairarapa’s sole representative at the Special Olympics summer games later this year. PHOTO/MELODY TAYLOR

JOHN LAZO-RON
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While the Olympics this year may seem done and dusted for some, for others, they’re just getting started.

Masterton’s Josh Taylor has qualified for the Special Olympics National Summer Games after a stellar performance at a tier two athletics meet earlier this year.

A Wairarapa College student and prefect, Taylor won four medals at the event in Manawatu, taking gold in the relay and 400m run, while receiving silver and bronze in shot put and long jump.

The 19-year-old is hoping to continue his sharp form at the summer games in Hamilton in December.

Taylor, who will be Wairarapa’s sole representative at the games, said he was not only proud of his medal-winning achievements, but is relishing the chance to compete against the best in New Zealand.

“Yeah it’s pretty all right,” he said.

“I am very proud of having the chance to represent the region in these games. It’s going to be fun going against all the other athletes.”

Asked what drove him to go out and give athletics a go, he didn’t hesitate in saying his mother Melody.

Taylor has Global Development Delay. It is an intellectual disability that takes longer for someone to reach certain development milestones than other children their age.

Taylor said his mum had always encouraged him to try new things and not let having a disability get in the way of giving something a go.

“She’s always pushed me to give everything I want to do a go,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to do sports and she encouraged me to not let anything stop me from doing it.”

That encouragement has seen Taylor grab the bull by the horns and not only take on athletics and play several competitive sports from a young age, but succeed at them as well.

Although his mother, who is a committee member at Special Olympics Wairarapa, said it was about so much more than success.

“It was all about getting Josh involved and participating in everything he wanted to do,” she said.

“He wanted to play sports, so we weren’t going to discourage him from doing that because of a disability. I’m very proud of what he has achieved as he’s become a leader and a true inspiration.”

While the Special Olympics have been in New Zealand since 1983, she felt it was a forgotten sport in Wairarapa.

Special Olympics Wairarapa has only four registered athletes, which pales in comparison to other clubs around New Zealand. However, she was hoping Taylor’s presence in Hamilton may inspire others to follow his footsteps.

“I don’t think many people realise that Special Olympics is still here in Wairarapa,” she said.

“It’s huge to have someone from here going to the summer games and we’re really hoping it might encourage people to get involved in special Olympics, whether as a volunteer or as an athlete.”

Melody Taylor said the club is building towards being able to offer athletics, swimming and ten-pin bowling.

“We’re about participation and inclusivity so we’re really helping bolster the club through someone being at the games.”

Predominately a runner, Taylor will compete in the 200m and 400m run, and also shot put at the Summer Games.

Despite the rest of the nation being under level 4 lockdown, Taylor said he would continue to prepare for the Summer Olympics as though they were going ahead, although he was worried about the extra free time he’ll have.

“I’ve been training quite hard and I know I’ll be busy before the games as I’ll be representing Waicol at the New Zealand Secondary Schools athletics event just before it, so hopefully I will have prepared enough for it.

“The only thing I’m worried about if we go into a further lockdown is that I’ll definitely have to keep an eye on my weight because I’ll be tempted just to eat,” he said.

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