Hunter athletes head to games

AIMING HIGH: Cooper Slavin-Gay and Claudia Jackson will represent NSW in basketball.
AIMING HIGH: Cooper Slavin-Gay and Claudia Jackson will represent NSW in basketball.

THE wait is finally over for 26 dedicated and talented Hunter athletes.

In less than 24 hours, selected Hunter athletes who are representing the state will be officially welcomed to the 2012 Special Olympics Junior National Games.

The Junior National Games will run from December 6 to 10 and are an opportunity for children with an intellectual disability to compete at a professional level.

The athletes will compete in both individual and skills-based team sports that range from swimming, basketball, cricket and athletics to soccer, tennis, T-ball and gymnastics.

The young sport stars have spent the past months in rigorous training programs, to ensure they are well-prepared for the games.

NSW team leader and coach of the Hunter swim team, Ellena Morris, said the athletes were well and truly ready for the games.

‘‘They cannot wait to go into the university [the athletes’ village],’’ she said.

‘‘The next week is going to be huge, with all the extra programs, opening and closing ceremonies and of course competition.’’

The games will be officially launched with an opening ceremony on December 7, with a performance from local dance group sensation, the Waltz-Sing Matildas, as well as musician Amber Lawrence, who will sing the game’s theme song – Try.

Go to for more information.

The 26 athletes to represent the Hunter

■Kirsten Boesen – aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■Gabriel Cerqueira – aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■Jai Darr – cricket

■Jacob Edwards – cricket

■Brendan Frost – aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■James Gibbs – aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■David Gibbs – aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■Nicholas Goodwin – aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■Tristan Grunsell — athletics, football (soccer)

■Kiyah Grunsell — cricket, football (soccer)

■Logan Heald — aquatics (swimming), tennis

■Ranon Holstein — aquatics (swimming)

■Claudia Jackson — athletics, basketball

■Denver Kearney — aquatics (swimming)

■Tonya-Lee Lacey — aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■Lleyton Lloyd — athletics, football (soccer)

■Hayley Lowe — aquatics (swimming)

■Karley Moran — aquatics (swimming)

■Megan Nay — aquatics (swimming)

■Cooper Slavin-Gay — gymnastics, basketball

■Joseph Smith — aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■Carlee Stackman — aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■Chloe Stanton —Phillips — aquatics (swimming)

■Shenai Williams  — athletics, tennis

■Matthew Wilson — aquatics (swimming), football (soccer)

■Samantha York — athletics, football (soccer)