The successful sporting career of teenage ice-skater Callum Mills gathered further momentum with a haul of eight medals, including two golds, at the British Inclusive Championships.
The 19-year-old, who trains at the Lammas Leisure Centre rink in Sutton, put behind him the disappointment of last year’s Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, to take the Glasgow event by storm.
Although he battled on and did his best for Team GB in Austria, he was struck down by flu and pneumonia and even spent time in hospital. But he was firing on all cylinders at the British Championships, which attracted about 60 of the best inclusive skaters in the country to the Braehead Curling Park.
In his category, Callum bagged golds in the senior men’s free skating and free dance and was the overall runner-up in the free skating competition. He took four more silvers in the compulsory elements, pattern dance (canasta tango), pattern dance (Dutch waltz) and combined pattern dance, plus a bronze in the overall men’s ice dance.
The results are another feather in the cap for Callum, who used to live in Mansfield with mum Michelle but moved to Clowne in Derbyshire last year.
A student at Mansfield’s Portland College, he has a number of special needs because he is deaf and has autism, a heart defect and CHARGE syndrome, which is caused by a rare genetic disorder that can affect many areas of the body.
But his life was transformed when Michelle first took him skating at the age of 12 to try and improve his balance. “He took to it straight away, even though it was hard for him,” she said.
“He trains three or four times a week at Lammas, but he loves it and is really shining. It keeps him fit too, and he gets to choose the music he dances to.”
Fellow Lammas skater Meg McFarlane, who is 14 and has Down’s syndrome and a heart condition, also won three silver medals and one bronze at Glasgow, and Michelle is full of praise for the duo’s coaches.
This weekend, the pair are off to London for a reunion of the Special Olympics team that went to Austria, but then it will be back to training for more big tournaments.
Michelle, who is Callum’s full-time carer, said: “They are both doing exceptionally well, and we hope their success inspires other with special needs to take up a sport.”