Tunbridge Wells skier, 35, to take on the world at Special Olympics in South Korea

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By kentsussex | Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 10:10

Seven top skiers - including Jane Andrews from Tunbridge Wells - have been chosen to represent their country at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea.

The competition will take place in PyeongChang from January 26 to February 6.

Jane, 35, has been an alpine skier for over 20 years having first been introduced to the sport while attending St. Georges School.

She has competed and medalled in several regional and national competitions, including the most recent Great Britain Nationals in Pila, Italy in January 2012, where she achieved three Gold medals in the Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Super Giant Slalom categories.

She said: 'Special Olympics means a lot to me. It has helped me realise my potential for doing Alpine Ski Racing. 

"I never thought when I started out in this sport that I would have such opportunities for training and competition. I've seen great improvements in my skiing and I've grown in confidence."

Jane has been training hard in the hopes of bringing home a gold medal for GB.

Since first learning to ski, Jane has honed her skills through several ski school trips to the French Alps, and sessions at Bowles Outdoor Pursuits Centre in Eridge, where she is a member of Disability Snowsports UK. 

Her current regimen includes practices at the Bowles Outdoor Pursuits Centre and the Bromley Ski Centre, as well as gym sessions at the local fitness centre in St. Johns, Tunbridge Wells.

Her parents are very excited and highly delighted to see their daughter participate in her first international competition.

Jane's father, Norman, said: "We are extremely pleased with the progress our daughter has made and the many friends she has met thanks to the Special Olympics. We know this opportunity will be a wonderful experience!"

When she is not busy training, Jane works at Sainsbury's and is an active member in her local church community.  

Jane volunteers her time as a Sunday School assistant, and serves as a member of the Welcome Team and the Ministry Team, which helps lead worship once a month.

Jane added: "Special Olympics has changed my life immensely. I've become a more confident skier, I've made new friends and I've developed my skiing further by training and taking part in competitions here in the UK and abroad."

The seven athletes were chosen from 73 skiers with intellectual (learning) disabilities who qualified at Special Olympics Great Britain's National Alpine Ski Championships in Pila, Italy, earlier this year.

Over 100 nations will participate in the event in South Korea, with 2,800 athletes with intellectual disabilities taking part.

Special Olympics Great Britain is delighted to confirm the following skiers will be part of their GB team:

Wayne McCarthy (31) of Biggin Hill

Jane Andrews (35) of Tunbridge Wells

Mikael Undrom (25) of Cobham

Elizabeth Allen (18) of Llanelli

Luke Purdie (18) of Aberdeen

Clare Lines (28) of Redditch

Robert Holden (21) of R o ss en dale

Five time Olympic skier and eight-time British Champion, Graham Bell, who joined the Special Olympics GB team in qualifying, commented: "I was really impressed by everyone's determination in the Special Olympics GB team to try their hardest.  

"Chemmy Alcott would be surprised how many of them used her as motivation!

"I watched most of the Special Olympics athletes and had a chance to ski with a couple of the groups.  

"One young racer told me that she had constructed a whole fantasy world where she got to ski as a Bond Girl and that me skiing with her was like living her fantasy. 

"Very humbling indeed. The snow conditions in Pila were perfect.  Cold, dry and grippy that did not rut-up at all for the racers.  So we had a fair track for all the starters."

Graham, who presents Ski Sunday and High Altitude, has also been a Special Olympics GB Ambassador since 2009. Bell flew in to Pila to inspire, and be inspired, by the athletes.

Chemmy Alcott, Olympic and six-time British National Champion Skier, said: "I never got into the sport to inspire people but it is a fantastic reward for all the hard work I have put in. 

"I don't want fellow racers to desire to be as good as me.  I want them to push themselves to be the best in the World.

"It is so great to see our Special Olympics GB skiers doing so well! And those chosen for the World Winter Games, representing your country is one of the biggest honours so massive congratulations from me to the whole team."

Special Olympics GB CEO Karen Wallin said "I would like to wish our seven skiers the very best of luck who will be representing Great Britain in South Korea at the World Winter Games later this month.

"The year-round sports coaching and events provided by Special Olympics in Great Britain is clinically proven to positively change the quality of lives of our athletes.  

"Almost 1.2 million people in Great Britain (2% of the population) have an intellectual disability."

Recent research from Canterbury Christchurch University shows that those who did participate in Special Olympics had a higher self-esteem than those who did not take part. 

Higher self-esteem leads to more feelings of self-worth and more self-care. 

Findings also concluded that those involved in Special Olympics had wider social networks and lower stress levels.    

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