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East Lancashire swimmer Katie Rilett-Young is on top of the world
KATIE Rilett-Young has produced an astonishing all-round performance after winning an incredible 11 medals on the world stage.
The 15-year-old, who is regarded as one of the best young swimmers in the country, showed there was more to her than just powering to glory in the pool.
Competing at the World Dwarf Games in Michigan, Katie won six golds, three silvers and two bronze medals in a stunning display of individual brilliance and team triumph.
The Shuttleworth College pupil crossed the Atlantic predominantly to test her swimming skills against the best across the globe.
And she did that in some style, not only winning each of the four competitions she entered but also setting four new World Dwarf Games records and, possibly more importantly, swimming a personal best time in the 50m freestyle – smashing it by more than a second.
Job done, well not quite.
For Katie starred and won medals in the shot put, pistol shooting, archery, table tennis and badminton It was a week where everything Katie touched turned to gold, and if not gold, silver and bronze at least And the biggest highlight after the swimming was helping Team GB win the football – a sport Katie had little experience in but ended up playing a pivotal role.
“Katie takes it all in her stride and doesn’t get over excited about anything but I don’t think it could have gone any better,” said dad Roger. “She went out there for the swimming and did exceptionally well but the football, considering Katie had not really played, was very special.”
Great Britain and the USA were the two biggest teams and best supported. So when they met in the final of the football, it produced a final high on drama and atmosphere.
And Katie more than rose to the occasion, scoring a great goal to cancel out America’s opener, setting up the second before the USA levelled to force a penalty shoot-out. She then kept her cool to score in the shoot-out as GB struck gold.
Not bad for a girl who started in the GB ‘B’ team before being a star of the winning ‘A’ team.
“Katie hadn’t played much football so the selectors didn’t really know how good she was so she played for the B team,” added Roger. “She impressed so much that she got promoted to the A team. The final was incredible, the atmosphere was terrific with both teams cheered on by big crowds.
“So for Katie to do what she did in the final was just brilliant.”
It was the icing on the cake at the Games where the swimming success was the ultimate stand-out highlight of a week of highlights.
It seemed the only obstacle that got in Katie’s way was actually getting to the championships which were held at Michigan State University.
Roger said: “We flew in to Chicago then faced a four-hour coach journey to our base in East Lancing. But our transport didn’t turn up so the entire GB squad, coaches, parents and family had to stay in a hotel in Chicago before travelling up the following day.”
As is the case with any major sporting occasion, the event starting with an opening ceremony where athletes paraded around the track with the national flags and uniforms as they would do in the Olympics and Paralympics.
The track and field events got the Games under way and Katie was soon in action, competing in the 13 to 15-year-old shot put in Class Two and picked up her first medal of the week when she finished in second place.
Then it was down to the main event as Katie switched her attentions to the pool.
First up was the 200m freestyle where she got off to the perfect start with a gold medal. In the 50m freestyle, she was the youngest in the field and was up against America Casey Johnson who competed in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. And what turned out to be a real battle, Katie just touched first thanks to a personal best performance.
The pair met again in the 100m freestyle and again it was a close fought thing before Katie pulled away in the closing stages.
Katie’s day in the pool just got better and better as she won the 100m breaststroke and also won a silver medal in the 50m freestyle relay – cheered on by dad Roger, mum Gillian and big sister Amy.
“Katie is not one to get over excited but we were screaming ourselves hoarse,” added Roger. “Katie went to America not really knowing what to expect. At home, she knows who she is up against but in Michigan she was competing against athletes from across the world so it was a step in to the unknown in that respect.
“But she did absolutely brilliantly and we are all incredibly proud of her achievements. Katie is very focused on what she does, which is a great knack to have. So after finishing one event it was a case of ‘right, what’s next’.”
What was next for Katie was the pistol shooting and another medal, this time a silver. She hit the medal target again, winning bronze in the archery then won her fifth gold medal, and first out of the pool, when she won the table tennis.
The same evening, Katie swapped bat for boots as she helped England win gold in the action packed football final in a packed stadium against the USA.
And the medal haul was complete when she teamed up with Megan Atkinson to win bronze in the badminton.
While it was a remarkable achievement, Katie acknowledged she could not have done it without the support and financial help of Burnley Bobcats, Andrew and Beverley Atkinson of AA Service, Padiham, Sue Jefferson, Andrew Riley, archery and table tennis coach Nick Tucker from Burnley Bows, Derrick Butterworth from Pendle Athletics Club, John Berry and Billy Dugdale – and proud grandparents Maurice and Joyce Rilett and Albert and Margaret Young for their fund raising efforts.
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