South African gymnast Charles Phillips took first place at the Down Syndrome Gymnastics World Championships, held in Leicester, England, recently.
Athletes from around the globe took part in the championships, with participants from Italy, Russia, Portugal, South Africa, Norway, Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil competing against their British counterparts.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Phillips competed in the Artistic Male Level 4 category, which uses Special Olympics routines. Level 4 routines are the highest level routines at these championships.
Phillips, identified by Head of British Gymnastics Movement for People with Disability (GMPD), Hazel Coates, upon her visit to South Africa in February 2011, has borne the fruits of the SAGF Disability Programme, which allows Hazel to visit SA yearly and providing specialized training to Charles.
As a result, in his first World Championships, Charles has attained first position, entitling him to Down Syndrome World Champion Status. He received the highest overall score after completing five apparatus events in Male Artistic Gymnastics.
SAGF were overjoyed by his recent success and hailed Phillips as a true role-model for gymnasts with disability in South Africa.