Skem Men Aces
AFTER 18 months of preparations the Skem MenAces very own Olympic 8 have tasted glory.
Special Olympics Skelmersdale went to the Bath special Olympics games to compete and represent the North West in this massive five day event and were totally stunned when their football team came away with Olympic silver.
Carl Eaton said: “This was the team’s very first experience of Olympic competition and never in our wildest imagination did we expect to come away as silver Olympians.”
This year's Summer Games was centred at the University of Bath's high performance facilities, with 600 coaches, 120 sports officials and over 500 event volunteers heading to Bath and Bristol - as well as more than 1,700 athletes.
Actor and Special Olympics ambassador Colin Salmon and Bath Olympic star Jason Gardener also took part in the ceremony and there were special video messages from Prime Minister David Cameron and chairman of the Special Olympics Tim Shriver. Susan Boyle, who found fame on the ITV show Britain’s Got Talent, sang two songs including I Dreamed A Dream from the musical Les Miserables.
Retired football coach and president of the Special Olympics Lawrie McMenemy said he hoped the Special Olympics would create its own legacy.
Lawrie said: “It might be big in other countries but people like us only hear about it when we are told. The legacy of these games will be that more and more people will know.
“There are three Olympics and this is the poor relation.
“It doesn’t get the funding or the sponsorship the others do, and all of the athletes taking part have to fund themselves.”
The opening ceremony took place in Bath’s iconic setting The Royal Crescent as the main feature and several hot air balloons rose majestically above the building as the Olympic flame of hope was lit.
The atmosphere was nothing like any of the team had ever witnessed before as the whole ceremony was watched by thousands of athletes, coaches, volunteers and family members. The following day the games began in earnest.
MenAces lads Ian Crotty, Paul Scott, Carl Washington, Ricci Flynn, John Duckers, George Sealeaf, Christopher Bromwell, Alan Dale, have been preparing for these games for many months and were faced with several hard fought games against teams as far as Scotland and Plymouth.
Their first game was a real nerve jangler with the end result being 2-1 to the Scots. Over the next couple of days the Skelmersdale Olympians fought back with guts, passion and determination with a succession of wins, to put them back in medal contention.
The final day of football was two games with the first being a win for the MenAces against the South West, they now only had to hold their nerve and not lose the last game.
Carl said: “The West Midlands was a big strong squad and if I am honest I believed our chances were pretty slim.
“How could I have ever doubted our supreme athletes as they took the game to the West Midlands and scrapped and battled their way through to a 1-1 draw.
“Screams, tears and sheer jubilation engulfed our North West squad as the reality hit us that we had just won the bronze medal.
“But the story didn't end there. We went back to the dining area for our evening meal before the presentation was to begin and as we began to enjoy a well deserved meal my mobile rang. It was the North West head of delegation. The conversation went:
“Carl, it’s Ted - it’s about the bronze medal.”
“Please Ted don't tell me we haven't won the Bronze.”
“I am pleased to tell you your Bronze has turned to Silver.”
“We had won Silver on the goals against rule.
“Tears of joy totally overwhelmed us and as the word went through the dining area congratulations, pats on backs and hugs were in abundance.
“With chests out and heads held high the lads stepped up to the Olympic podium and Everton legend Derek Mountfield presented the lads with their silver medal.
Tears flowed once again as the realisation that Skelmersdale had its very own Silver Olympians.
Our heroes arrived home to be greeted by a sea of supporters and good luck messages.