SPECIAL OLYMPICS: Three of the Clarence Valley's brightest budding sports stars will be tackling a brave new challenge next month when they take on the Special Olympics National Junior Games.
The national event, aimed at kids with an intellectual disability, will welcome athletes from across Australia as they compete in at least two sports across the event on the Gold Coast.
The Clarence Valley will be well represented at the games by a spirited trio in Harry Oxenbridge, Jamie Plunkett and Tylar Donohoe.
Harry, 10, will be relying on his years of experience as a Westlawn Tigers junior when he takes on soccer and athletics.
The centre forward or left winger has been running on the fields at Barnier Park for five years now and has learnt a lot along the way.
"Craig Phelps has been my coach and he has taught me so much over the years,” Harry said. "He has pushed me to the best of my ability.
"I am very excited, a tad nervous, but really excited. I live and breathe soccer.”
Tylar, 12, will also compete in soccer as well as swimming, and with training at least four times a week, the young fish is ready for all comers at the games.
"I am not really nervous, I have been practising swimming a lot and I have also competed in other swimming events as well in the past so I am not too nervous,” Tylar said.
The Games will be the first time Tylar competes on a national level. "I have already made heaps of friends through Special Olympics and I think I will only make more,” he said.
Already a noted swimmer in the pool after breaking records last season, Jamie is stepping out of her comfort zone to play soccer on the national stage after being introduced to the sport by Special Olympics coordinator Shanon Tough.
Jamie's mum Karina said sport was a great influence on her daughter's life, and with the Special Olympics Games opening more doors, it could only get better.
"Sport has done amazing things for Jamie. Her social skills, her community participation, daily living, it has just done wonders.”
The National Junior Games run from July 3-7.
You can donate to the games or individual athletes online.