Strathalbyn athletes with a disability take on 2018 Special Olympics Australian National Games

Two Strathalbyn ladies have been named in the squad representing South Australia at the 11th Special Olympics Australian National Games next April.

Earlier this month, basketball player and cheerleader Mia Woods, 22, and swimmer Zara Taylor, 21, were announced as part of the squad to participate at the Games in Adelaide. 

They are just two of the 90 South Australian representatives who will make up a small section of the 1000-plus athletes expected at the event.

The pair are vying for a place on the Australian team, which will travel to Abu Dhabi for the World Games in 2019.

It is the second time Woods has been selected for the national Games, while it will be Taylor's first.

Woods made the basketball team in 2014, which was one of the medal teams that year.

She plays basketball locally for Langhorne Creek Purple, and has been playing for about 10 years.

“It’s fun and you get fit,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to having fun with my teammates and having a go.”

She also took up cheerleading last year, after a friend asked her if she wanted to try it.

“I went to the first training and in Adelaide and I loved it,” she said.

“We had a state competition and we came first. This year it’s at Melbourne at the end of September.”

Taylor has been swimming competitively with the Great Southern Swimming Club since 2011.

“My coach Karen said breaststroke is my strongest stroke, but we’re working hard on my freestyle and butterfly,” she said.

“I swim to keep my fitness up and meet new people, it’s quite fun to be around.”

She said it was exciting to find out she had made the swimming team.

“I was in quite a shock, I thought it was just a dream,” she said.

“I was excited, the next day I told my coach and she was over the moon.”

Woods said it was a fantastic feeling knowing she had been named.

“I was at home when I got the email,” she said.

“Three of my friends are on the team.”

Taylor hoped South Australia would perform well, but she was looking forward to the whole experience, no matter her results.

“It’s a good opportunity for me and Mia to be proud that we have a disability, and hope people show people with a disability more respect,” she said.

“I’m hoping to get PBs, and a medal would be a bonus.”

The Special Olympics is a year-round multi-sports program for people with an intellectual disability. 

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