Winners already

Anne Peacock (foreground) and Lucy Porteous are on their marks and all set for the Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011. Photograph Brian Sutherland.
Anne Peacock (foreground) and Lucy Porteous are on their marks and all set for the Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011. Photograph Brian Sutherland.
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LET me win, but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt.

So says The Special Olympics athlete oath that is applied to the only games in the world which considers all participating athletes as winners.

Winners in their struggle for our respect in their diversity.

Winners in their struggle for self-esteem.

Winners in their struggle to defend their special abilities.

And this week two Borders winners winged their way to Athens where they will represent Great Britain at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Anne Peacock from Innerleithen and Stichill’s Lucy Porteous were selected from thousands of British athletes to compete at the prestigious four-yearly event.

From June 25 to July 4, 7,500 Special Olympics Athletes from 185 nations will compete in 22 Olympic-type sports and the Borders duo, who are part of the 150-strong Team GB, are looking forward to competing on the international stage. The pair left on Saturday and will stay in the Special Olympics Village at Aghios Andreas, just 30 minutes away from Athens.

Anne, 26, has been running on the Borders track and field circuit for a few years now and trains with TLJT, where coach Charlie Cochrane has been giving her the benefit of his wisdom. Anne hopes the experience she has gained here will put her in good stead for the games, where she will compete in the 100m, 200m and the 4x400m relay.

She told TheSouthern: “I have been working hard on getting my speed up and on my fitness levels. Everyone at the club has been a great help.”

Coach Cochrane complemented his pupil on her commitment.

He added: “There were a couple of things that needed tweaked, such as using her arms more when she is running, but she has taken everything on board and has improved in everything we have worked on.

“Anne’s dedication is second to none, she is always first to training and has a fantastic attitude, I have really enjoyed working with her.”

While her Borders friend and team-mate is being put through her paces on the track, Lucy, 22, will be serving up a storm on the tennis courts in the ladies’ singles and doubles. Having received coaching from Kelso Orchard Tennis Club’s Lesley Thomas, the youngster feels confident she can give a good performance.

She told us: “We have been working hard and looking at improving all aspects of my game. I have been to a couple of warm-up events at Nottingham and picked up medals in both of them, so I think I’m ready to step up another level.”

While both girls have competed on the national circuit, this will be their first appearance on the international stage. Anne added: “We are both really looking forward to the opening ceremony and meeting all the other athletes from all over the world. And some better weather, of course!”

Last week the girls were given a special send-off by members of both the Scottish Borders Special Olympics Group and the Borders Disability Sports Group at a reception at Riverside Park Rugby Club in Jedburgh.

Speaking on behalf of both local bodies Jed Renilson said: “We wish the girls all the best in their endeavours at the Special Olympics in Athens and are proud of their achievements which have led to them being selected. I have to thank all those who have helped and supported the athletes along the way and everyone who has given time or money to make this all possible.”

The Special Olympics World Games is the crowning of a long-lasting movement founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who managed to realize her dream of global magnitude.

To create a world that is not dominated by those who are excluded, but by those who are included.