Three Teesside gymnasts are gearing up to take on the world at the Special Olympics 2019 in the Middle East.
Talented Sean Jewitt, Caroline Jennison and Mica Hoare, who all have Down’s Syndrome, are preparing to compete in the global competition in Abu Dhabi in March.
The trio are trained three times a week at Middlesbrough College’s specialist facilities by head coach and Caroline’s mum Sandra Jennison and coach, Doreen Kidger.
Sean, 25, from Stockton is an artistic gymnast and performs routines on apparatus such as the pommel horse and still rings.
Meanwhile Caroline, 38, and Mica, 19 – both from Eston – are rhythmic gymnasts and use hoops, balls and ribbons in their routines.
Under Sandra’s watchful eye the gymnasts practice at Middlesbrough College’s Gymworld gymnastics training centre on Olympic level apparatus.
Sandra said: “Sean, Caroline and Mica all qualified through the summer games in Sheffield and now they’re excited to be part of the 128-strong Great Britain team going to Abu Dhabi.
“They will be up against athletes from 170 other countries and the competition will be fierce, but they’re all talented and taking part is a fantastic opportunity for them.
“We use Middlesbrough College’s facilities to train three times a week for two hours. The space is ideal for us.”
Caroline competed in the Special Olympics in Dublin 16 years ago as an artistic gymnast.
This year’s event is the first time the Special Olympics has been held in the Middle East, and will see more than 7,000 athletes compete across two weeks.
Caroline said: “I feel excited to go to Adu Dhadi. When I found I was going I was emotional and had happy tears.
“Thank you to Doreen for training me. I’m going to do my best to work hard and enjoy making new friends from other countries.”
Mica said: “I’m really looking forward to competing for my country in the Special Olympics but I am a bit nervous.
“I want to make my family and friends proud especially my friend Shauna who passed away. She will be watching and saying “go Mica”.”
Sean said: “I love doing gymnastics and I’m very proud and happy to be in the Great Britain team going to Adu Dhabi.
“I will work hard and do my best.”
Paula Metcalfe, a gymnastics coach at Middlesbrough College’s Gymworld, added: “All of us at Middlesbrough College are rooting for Sean, Caroline, and Mica in Abu Dhabi.
“They’ve been training hard at Gymworld and I know they’ll do Great Britain and Teesside proud.
“Over the last few years some fantastic athletes have trained here at Middlesbrough College’s state-of-the-art facilities and gone on to achieve great things.”