LLANELLI teenage twins Ruth and Tyler Charleston are flying the flag for Wales at the World Winter Special Olympic Games that opened in Schladming, Austria, on Saturday. (March 17th.)
The twins are competing as we go to press in the giant slalom and slalom events with coverage on BT Sports.
Tyler (GB squad No 8) was selected for the games in January 2016 with Ruth (GB squad No 11) just missing out and being named first reserve in the Great Britain alpine skiing squad of eight.
Then, in February this year, one of the English competitors damaged cruciate ligaments in Schladming training with the squad and Ruth was called up. Fortunately, Ruth had been accompanying her sister to training events all over the country including snowdomes at Milton Keynes and Hull. But they have been undertaking the majority of their training on the dry ski slope at Ski Pembrey which they have attended as many as three times a week. Their training has including endurance cycling rides of 30-miles a week, regular gym sessions and skiing with the Heol Goffa Special School and West Wales Ski Club. Becoming joint Olympians is a fantastic achievement both personally and for their foster parents Ron and Jacqueline Cant and Heol Goffa Special School. They are the only Welsh competitors from 3,500 representing 110 countries from around the world. Here are 398 skiers in the competition.
Proud foster dad Ron said: “The twins have become celebrities in recent weeks with TV news and press breaking worldwide of their joint selection. “It is wonderful that people realise how empowering sport can be not only for the physically able but for people with disabilities and those intellectually challenged too. The girls are determined to bring a medal of some kind home but the fact they are taking part at all is a miracle in itself and makes us so proud of their achievements and endeavours. “Tyler and Ruth came to us nearly seven years ago as shy, frightened and retiring Merthyr children who tragically have since lost both parents. “Since arriving in our care the twins have shown a great passion for sport of all kinds including cycling, swimming, netball and, of course skiing, which their have taken to with great panache. “It is tremendous that they are now competing together in both the giant slalom and slalom events because they are so much more competitive being pitched one against the other another they will push to the limits to be beat one another in Browley Brothers fashion.
“You cannot underestimate the enormity of the challenge facing them this week pitched against skiers from snowy countries. “Tyler, while training with the Olympics GB squad in Schladming in February was announced the Carmarthenshire Disability Sports Woman of the Year. Ruth is determined to knock her off that pedestal winning a brighter coloured medal than her at the Games and vying for the title next year. “The girl’s handicap of speech dyspraxia and global delay has not hindered their ability for skiing in any way helping them to grow in confidence and fitness, building their self-esteem and social development.
In the days leading up to the Games the girls have enjoyed cable car tours, visited schools and been entertained to civic receptions in Graz before settling down to training and qualification for the competition today and tomorrow. The Games is being celebrated in 80 cities hosting teams across Austria. BT Sports is covering the competition through to Saturday, March 25th.