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'It makes me proud to say that I'm a world champion and a GB athlete' Norwich gymnast wins gold at the Special Olympics

PUBLISHED: 15:26 22 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:26 22 March 2019

Shane Baxter (centre) who won gold medals in the vault and parrallel bars and a silver medal in artistic gymnastics floor and a silver medal overall  at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. Picture: Special Olympics Great Britain

Shane Baxter (centre) who won gold medals in the vault and parrallel bars and a silver medal in artistic gymnastics floor and a silver medal overall at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. Picture: Special Olympics Great Britain

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A gymnast from Norwich has vaulted his way to gold at the Special Olympics World Games.

Shane Baxter competing in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. Picture: Special Olympics Great BritainShane Baxter competing in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. Picture: Special Olympics Great Britain

Shane Baxter, from Norwich has picked up not one, not two but five medals at Abu Dhabi games which were held between March 14-21.

The 20-year-old artistic gymnastic who trains at three times a week at Waveney Gymnastics Club in Lowestoft, won gold medals in the vault and on the parallel bars, as well as silver on the rings and floor.

Mr Baxter also came fourth in the pommel horse and on the high bar as well as winning a silver medal overall.

He said: “The experience [of competing at the Special Olympics] has been breathtaking and I have loved every minute of it. The atmosphere was amazing everyone was cheering everyone on and it was lovely to see everyone having a good time.

Shane Baxter competing in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. Picture: Special Olympics Great BritainShane Baxter competing in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. Picture: Special Olympics Great Britain

“It makes me proud to say that I’m a world champion and a GB athlete.”

Now, in order to celebrate his success, Niki Payne, a friend of Mr Baxter’s is throwing a party to celebrate the gymnast’s success.

Ms Payne said she thought Mr Baxter’s success at the Abu Dhabi games was “incredible”: “[Shane] has been doing gymnastics for some time now.

“When a disability is not immediately obvious it can be difficult for some people to understand, but it’s about embracing neurodiversity.

Shane Baxter competing in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. Picture: Special Olympics Great BritainShane Baxter competing in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. Picture: Special Olympics Great Britain

“I think his [success] is incredible and absolutely inspiring for so many others,” she said.

A spokesperson for Special Olympics Norfolk said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with [Shane’s] success.”

A celebration and party for Mr Baxter will be held on Saturday, March 23, at the Guildhall Cafe from 6.30pm.

The Special Olympics -which are for people with intellectual disabilities- is recognised as the third branch of the Olympic Family but unlike the Paralympics and Olympics which are for elite sportspeople the Special Olympics are for competitors of ages and abilities.

The focus of the games is to promote inclusion and end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities.

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