With just a few seconds left in her pet event, the 100-metres backstroke, 21-year-old Alicia Martino was so focused she didn’t know who would touch the wall first.
“Well, I thought I was going fast but I didn’t know how fast and then, when I finished and looked at the next person, I went ‘Oh my God, I’m first, I won! Wee!” Alicia said.
It was among Australia’s first gold medals at the Special Olympics: World Games in the United Arab Emirates from March 14 to 21.
Fellow 21-year-old Bedford employee and bowler, Rachel Fenwick, wasn’t far behind in bringing home glory.
“I got a couple of early strikes and I knew my scores were good – maybe even better than the people next to me,” she said.
Then came the moment of truth for Rachel.
“I thought no, no that’s not my name. No, no! This must be a dream!”
All up, Bedford’s golden girls brought home seven medals between them – two gold, two silver and three bronze. A stunning achievement - even by Rachel’s reckoning.
“Well, I got silvers in the nationals and I really wanted to go one better and get all gold, but I still felt very proud. As long as I went there and had fun, that’s the main thing,” she said.
A special moment too for the parents, including Rachel’s mum Sharon, who watched from the sidelines with tears in her eyes.
“It really is a huge achievement to represent the country. It just gives all the athletes so much confidence and ability. However, we would never have been able to go overseas if it weren’t for the generosity of families, friends and even complete strangers through our own fundraising campaign,” Sharon said.
Both Sharon and Alicia’s mum, Afroz, would like to see the process streamlined for families whose children are competing on the world stage.
The competition featured 109 Australian athletes who participated in 11 sports including basketball, tennis, equestrian events, athletics, golf and gymnastics.