A GYMNAST has returned home to Horndean after doing her family and nation proud at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in the United Arab Emirates.
British rhythmic gymnast Lizzie Williams was greeted by bellowing cheers, applause and television camera crews when she touched down at Heathrow on Friday night.
After a week of competition alongside more than 7,000 other athletes from across the globe in Abu Dhabi, the 36-year-old won a silver medal for her level 2 hoop routine and a bronze medal for a rhythmic group floor exercise with her teammates.
Among her close friends watching on as she showed off her talent, there could have been no one prouder than her mum, Sue Williams, who had been coaching her for two years.
‘There’s a lot of rules you have to abide by and it can be quite a tense moment when you get on with the routine with all these people watching,’ the 52-year-old said.
‘The moment Lizzie finally got out there she did everything perfectly.
‘After she’d finished she walked off to the side and waved at everybody.’
Lizzie, who has Down’s Syndrome, has been competing in the Special Olympics since 1990 and trains twice a week.
She is no stranger to success either, having scooped five gold medals at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, in 2007.
She told The News she ‘was happy with two medals’ and ‘it was fun meeting people’ out in Abu Dhabi.
On the perspective of taking to the sidelines as a coach, Sue added: ‘It’s a great honour to represent Great Britain.’
With the games taking place between Thursday, March 14 and Thursday, March 21, Lizzie and her fellow British rhythmic gymnasts finished two days of competition with 20 medals.
In level 2, Jannette Sharpe won gold for her ribbon routine and Alison Mackenzie and Amy Clark won silver and bronze respectively in the level 4 all-around.
After the medal ceremony, Lizzie and her teammates were congratulated by Special Olympics ambassador, pop star Nicole Scherzinger.
Lizzie’s other teammates were Mica Hoare and Caroline Jennison from Middlesbrough.
The team was joint-coached by Magalie Mackay.