A new scheme aimed at identifying young sporting talent is helping two Ashfield-based figure skaters with genetic conditions to achieve their potential.
Callum Mills, 18, has Charge syndrome, which affects his hearing and balance, while Meg McFarlane, 13, has Down’s syndrome. But it hasn’t stopped them excelling on the ice, and now they have been awarded sponsorship as part of the Sporting Champions scheme, launched by Everyone Active, who operate leisure centres across Ashfield.
Both Callum, who lives in Mansfield, and Meg, who lives near Newark, train on the rink at Lammas Leisure Centre in Sutton with Everyone Active coaches Kelly Shinfield and Louisa Chatwin. The pair commit a lot of time to the sport of skating, training up to five days a week both before and after school.
So far, their dedication is paying off. Callum, who also has a heart condition, has won gold medals at the last two Special Olympics, while Meg won six medals there, including three golds, as well as multiple medals at other international competitions, and was named Nottinghamshire’s junior disabled sports personality of the year. Both are to represent Team GB at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria next year.
Now they are two of 25 athletes to receive a silver sponsorship as part of the Sporting Champions scheme, which will help them with funding for training, equipment, travel and competition costs.
Callum, who first took to the ice aged 12 after his mother, Michelle, thought it would help to improve his co-ordination and stability, is delighted. “This will help him stay focused and achieve his dreams,” said Michelle. “He is determined to continue improving and to represent Team GB in more events.”
Meg’s love of the sport began while watching the TV show, ‘Dancing On Ice’, and she has now been skating for eight years. Her father, Cory, said: “This support will ensure she can train regularly and attend events all over the world. She is very focused on producing a great performance at the Winter Games that she can be proud of.”
Coach Louisa said: “It’s great to have such inspirational, young athletes using our facilities. Both work extremely hard.”