A Champion for the Western Isles

When Sara Thomas set out from her Stornoway home for the 2002 Scottish Senior Swimming Championships for the Disabled she did so as the first athlete sponsored by Western Isles Disability Sports (WIDS) to take part in a major event on the mainland.

A 25 year old Lab Technician, Sara had trained for her two 25 metre, Class 7, events on her own after she tried, but could not find, a swimming coach locally who would take her seriously. One had even told her that disabled folk only swim as leisure past time and therefore would not take her on as a competitive swimmer.

Image Medalist Sara
Sara brings home Gold

This despite the fact that the other competitors in the Championships included present Para-Olympians, Jim Anderson, Alan McGregor, Andrew Lindsay, Anna Tizard and Lara Ferguson. Most of these athletes taking part as a preparatory step towards the Commonwealth Games in Manchester later this year.

Saturday 20th April, and Sara ensured that her serious competitive edge cooked that coach's words ready for the eating. As the first ever competitor to take part in these championships representing the Western Isles she did the islands proud and will return to Lewis next week with two, well deserved, gold medals.

Sara's two events were the Class 7 Adapted Breast Stroke and the Freestyle over 25 metres. In the Breast Stroke she won the event in style, her fingers reaching the finishing line in a personal best time of 34.06 seconds. Having that gold medal in the bag and bolstered by her first ever victory, she then went on to win her second event, the 25 metres Freestyle in a time of 35.44 seconds. This performance by Sara promotes her to Class 6 for future events.

Western Isles Disability Sports (WIDS) has always aimed high and after only being in existence for a year has recently sponsored a sub branch in Barra and has every Thursday at 8p.m. booked at the Grianan Centre for all disabled people who want to take part in sport.

Gordon Thomas, the Chairman of WIDS, said this morning that, "This magnificent achievement by Sara would not have been possible only a year ago and is a direct result of the commitment and hard work put in by everyone in the organisation over that time. It also shows what can be achieved, nationally as well as locally.

WIDS Press Officer, Mike Feehan added, "Sara trained very hard for these Championships and her victory is really only an example of what we hope will become a regular occurrence. We see very clearly that there are many sporting opportunities open to our disabled community, all we have to do is take them. Who knows what other sporting talents will blossom now that we have broken the ground?"

As if proof of the seriousness of these championships were required two other athletes taking part from other areas, Lara Ferguson and Paul Noble, set new Scottish Swimming Records.




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