A BURNLEY College student will be one of seven skiers to represent Great Britain at the Special Olympics World Winter Games at the end of the month.
Robert Holden will be part of the GB team that flies out to South Korea after starring at the National Alpine Ski Championships in Italy last year.
The 21-year-old from Rossendale won three medals on the slopes of Pila to earn a coveted spot in the national squad – beating more than 70 skiers for a place in the team.
The Special Olympics World Winter Games take place in PyeongChang from January 26 to February 6 and will include 2,800 athletes from more than 100 nations.
Robert, whose feats earned him the Lancashire Sports Rising Sport award, is delighted to have made the squad.
“It’s a honour to be selected and competing gives me a great sense of satisfaction as I improve,” said Robert who is studying Lifeskills at Burnley College. “Special Olympics has given me an opportunity in life I would not otherwise have had.
“It has made me very determined to succeed and be as good as I possibly can.”
Mum Jane said the Games are a great chance for Robert to show off his skiing skills.
“I am very proud of Robert,” she said. “Being selected as an athlete for the World Winter Games has given him a great opportunity to show people what he can achieve and he is very determined to do his best.”
Robert has been a part of the Special Olympics Great Britain team since 2011 and has been training hard every since, skiing twice a week.
At the National Alpine Ski Championships in Pila, Italy last year, Robert earned three silver medals to qualify for the World Winter Games.
He was a part of the Rossendale Special Olympics Ski team that returned from Italy with a clutch of medals – including three national champions.
Robert, who started skiing while he was at school, was the ‘nearly’ man of the team, winning silver in the Super G, giant slalom and the slalom in the advanced 16 to 21-years-old category.
So while his team-mates Liam Kay, Jade Owen and Thomas Kirk who all struck gold, it was Robert who earned the right to ski for the GB team in the World Winter Games.
As well as winning the Lancashire Sport award, a prize he received from Olympic pole vault star Holly Bleasdale, Robert was also awarded a gold card by Rossendale Leisure Trust in recognition of his talent and success at national level As well as his skiing, Robert is a keen golfer and is a member of Rossendale Golf Club. He also works part time as a range assistant at Golf Rossendale golf range.