Medals haul for Ross-shire’s Special Olympian
Ross-shire swimming star Matthew Paterson has proved to be a Great Briton after winning gold and silver medals at the 2014 Special Olympics in the USA.
Matthew, 16, head boy at St Clement’s school in Dingwall, has been proudly showing off his gold medal for the 100m freestyle and the silver for the 100m backstroke at the recent games in Los Angeles, California. One of eight athletes in the Great Britain squad, he was also fourth in the individual medley and 4x50m freestyle relay.
Matthew, who lives in Munlochy and trains with the Highland Disability Swim Team, is to be honoured on Friday, 11 July when he will carry the Queen’s baton in the Dingwall High Street leg of its journey to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.
His trip to LA for the Special Olympics Invitational Summer Games of Southern California, the world’s largest sports tournament for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, was made possible by a £1,400 fundraising effort by his family and friends and local businesses, topped up with grant of £850 from The Highland Council’s Black Isle Ward Discretionary Fund.
Councillor Jennifer Barclay on behalf of her fellow Black Isle ward Councillors congratulated Matthew on his performance at the Special Olympics. She said: “Matthew did so well and is a credit to himself, his family and the whole community. We are all so proud of him and were delighted to have been able to support him in his successful Olympic quest. We’re very much look forward to seeing Matthew carrying the baton as it makes its way through Dingwall High Street on its way to the Highland Celebration Event at Jubilee Park, Dingwall on the 11 July.”
The fundraising was organised by Matthew’s mother, musician Isabel Paterson, who said: “We are all extraordinarily proud of Matthew. It was a great achievement in the first place to be picked for Team GB, and to bring home two medals was just fantastic. This may not have been possible without the support of his coaches and our donors so we’d like to thank them very much.”
Matthew said: “I did it! I swam my very best and I had a great time.”
Fellow pupils and staff at St Clement’s School are also thrilled with their head boy’s achievements. “We were delighted to see Matthew back at school wearing his medals. He had a fantastic time in LA and we are all very proud of him,” head teacher Toni McCartney said.
There was time for some fun and education during the trip with a tour around Hollywood and a visit to the LA Science Centre to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The British Consulate also entertained and looked after the GB team throughout their stay.
A highlight of the trip was meeting pop star Nicole Scherzinger, an ambassador for the Special Olympics. Mrs Paterson explained: “Nicole grew up with an aunt with Downs Syndrome and she has a real heart for people with special needs. She was besieged by the crowd of 1250 athletes at the opening ceremony, but fought her way through especially to meet Team GB and wish them well. They all said she was lovely.”