ECL volunteer competes at the 2023 Special Olympics

A volunteer and former customer at ECL Saffron Walden has returned home from the 2023 Berlin Special Olympics with two personal bests.

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Current World Champion in mini javelin and standing long jump, 32-year-old Rosa Huntington was Team Captain of the Great British Athletics team competing at this year’s Special Olympics where she competed in the standing long jump, 100 metre and mixed relay events.

Rosa (who won two golds at the 2019 Special Olympics), is a former customer of ECL Saffron Walden Learning Disabilities Day Service. She now volunteers at the centre every Thursday helping customers with meal preparation, cooking and clean up at Noah’s café, located within the centre.

Rosa said: “I really enjoyed competing in this year’s Special Olympics. I am really pleased to have achieved personal bests in standing long jump and 100 metre sprint. What I enjoy most about competing in athletics is being able to continually improve myself, seeing the results of putting in lots of effort, beating my personal goals, and of course winning medals!”

Rosa has been competing in athletics for 15 years and got involved in the sport through a gym club for younger people with Learning Disabilities run by Uttlesford District Council.

It was here that coach, Bob Mckinley spotted Rosa’s potential and encouraged her to take her sport further inviting her to participate in a learning disabilities athletics programme that he was running for the Essex Youth Games at Harlow Athletics Club.

Rosa’s mum Ann believes that her success is all to do with having had a very inspirational coach. She said: “Bob spotted her talent early on, encouraged her and she went from strength to strength.”

Rosa plans to combine her athletic talent and passion for helping others by pursuing a career as a coach. She hopes to undertake relevant ASDAN and BTECH qualifications to explore this pathway.

Rosa’s former coach, Bob Mckinley said: “Rosa always gives time to others and there are formats in place that would allow Rosa to become a coach. She has a good way of showing people what to do and explaining things to them. Not just in sport, but in all areas of life, it’s a skill that could take her into coaching if that is something she would like to do.”

To others looking to get involved in athletics Rosa’s message is simple, she said: “I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved so far and you can be too. If you want to do it, you can. If you train hard and surround yourself with the right people who support and encourage you, you can achieve anything!”

The Special Olympics World Games are the world's largest inclusive sports event. The games aim to achieve greater recognition and social participation of people with intellectual disabilities in our society. This year they took place in Berlin from the 17th to the 25th of June - the first time that Germany has hosted the games. Thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities competed together in 26 sports.

For more information about ECL’s services for adults with learning disabilities and autism visit

For more information about the Special Olympics visit

Rosa, volunteer and former customer at ECL Saffron Walden with her Captain and Participation medals from the 2023 Berlin Special Olympics.
Rosa, volunteer and former customer at ECL Saffron Walden with her Captain and Participation medals from the 2023 Berlin Special Olympics.

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