A TRIO of badminton stars have returned home with a clutch of medals.
Members of the Special Olympics Sunderland team competed in the Four Nations Para-badminton English Championship 2012, at Nottingham University, and won seven medals between them.
The youngsters all go to Barbara Preistman School and on top of their Special Olympics commitments, also attend St Aidan’s Junior Badminton Club.
Michael Moon, 17, from Grindon Lane, came away with a gold medal in men’s singles class three and a silver medal in men’s doubles class two.
Daniel Torczynowycz, 14, from Washington, won a gold medal in mixed doubles class two and a silver medal in men’s doubles class two.
And 18-year-old Laura Ferguson secured a gold medal in ladies singles class two, a gold medal in mixed doubles class two and a silver medal in ladies doubles class one.
Laura’s dad, Stephen Ferguson, volunteers with the Special Olympics badminton team and said the medals are a real achievement for Laura, who suffers from DiGeorge syndrome.
Stephen, 46, from Tunstall, said that badminton is one of Laura’s biggest passions.
He added: “There’s two things that she really enjoys. One is badminton and the other is playing keyboard. She does not say much, she is quite shy and reserved but I think she is very proud.
“She enjoys the social side of badminton as well. She’s made a lot of friends around the country by going to competitions.
“I’m chuffed to bits for her. This gives her confidence and they really work hard.
“They love it, these kids, they find something they love and they really work at it.”
The trip to Nottingham was thanks to a donation from Sunderland Rotary Club to St Aidan’s Junior Badminton Club.
Senior member John Clark said: “We were very willing to provide some help and we are delighted with the success of the children.”
Kath Rooney, secretary for Special Olympics Sunderland, said she was incredible proud of the kids’ achievements.
Kath, from Penshaw said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. It encourages the other kids in the group into playing badminto. It’s raising an interest in it. The other kids see them coming back with medals and it’s nice the public can see that our kids are able to do things like this and we know that they can.
“It gives them the opportunity to reach their full potential.”