Esperance athletes win gold in Special Olympics WA State Games

Two local athletes have returned from successful long weekend at the Special Olympics WA State Games, each bringing home at least one gold medal.

Kayelene Watts won gold in the shot put and 100 metre, silver in the turbo javelin, and bronze in the relay and 200 metre. She was also up against a field of all male competitors in the 200 metre.

Waiata Johnson claimed gold in the turbo javelin and silver in the shot put.

Watts’ coach David Pope said she consistently won medals in both state and national events.

She recently claimed six gold medals in her six events at the WA Disabled Sports Association (WADSA) Athletics State Championships.

Mr Pope said the 26-year-old was a talented runner and had collected gold medals every year at the championships since first competing four years ago.

“Each year she’s gone down there from here and she’s won the six events each time she’s gone in,” he said

“She’d run through a brick wall if you asked her, she’s that keen.”

He said she is also a competitive swimmer and was training for the WADSA Swimming Championships in August.

“She usually goes in eight events and she’s been winning eight events when she goes to Perth, so she’s quite talented,” he said.

Kayelene’s mother Leonie Watts said her daughter started running at age six as part of therapy for cerebral palsy.

“It started as therapy and now you just can’t stop her,” she said. “I can’t see it stopping. They’re only allowed to do four events in Special Olympics, otherwise Kayelene might have done seven or eight.”

Mr Pope said he started coaching Ms Watts four years ago through his long-term involvement in little athletics.

“I’m just trying to help out to give a little bit back,” he said.

“We have quite a few laughs because she’s got a good sense of humour.

“She gets all wobbly in the legs sometimes and she just stops and has a bit of a laugh.”

The Special Olympics WA State Games ran from June 2 to 5 in Perth.