Biggin Hill skier wins winter Olympic gold
A SKIER with learning difficulties has won an Olympic gold medal.
Wayne McCarthy, from Biggin Hill, was one of the "magnificent seven" Special Olympics skiers representing Great Britain at the Winter Games in South Korea.
Mr McCarthy, 31, of Flamborough Close, returned to England yesterday, touching down at Heathrow airport at 2pm after 12 days of competing with his fellow athletes, aged between 18 and 35.
They were chosen from 73 skiers with learning disabilities who qualified at the National Alpine Ski Championships in Pila, Italy, and battled their way to victory on the slopes, amassing nine medals, including three golds, between them.
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Mr McCarthy has skied for more than 20 years, having been taught by his father Harry, and over the years he has won five trophies from the Seefeld Ski School in Austria.
His dad said: "We try to ensure he skis on snow at least once a year because he loves it so much."
Mr McCarthy joined the Special Olympics in 2009 and trained hard to improve his competitive performance.
He walked away with three gold medals at the Pila ski contest and qualified as one of 2,800 athletes from 100 countries at the South Korean event.
"Special Olympics means a lot to me because I love socialising with people, and being part of a team," he said.
"I feel like a winner with Special Olympics and it makes me feel good about myself."
Mr McCarthy also enjoys other sports, including judo, football, and swimming and is a member of the Biggin Hill Judo Club where he has earned his blue belt and a series of awards.
When he is not engrossed in sports, Mr McCarthy enjoys socialising with friends and walking his dogs. He works for Marks & Spencer, but is a keen DJ and hopes to DJ on the radio in the future.
Mr McCarthy's parents travelled to South Korea with him to support him and cheer on the GB team.
His mother Annette said: "We are so delighted.
"He has trained extremely hard to get to this level."
"Special Olympics has changed his life, as it has allowed him to meet lots of new people and provided him with many opportunities to improve his skiing.
"We are very proud of him."