Christopher Bunton may live with Down syndrome but he has never let it slow him down.
The 25-year-old gymnast from St Clair who trains a day a week at SGAC in Rooty Hill among other training has been selected in the NSW squad for the Special Olympics National Games for the fourth time.
While he’s a medal winner at previous National Games and World Games, Bunton said the sense of belonging is what keeps bringing him back.
“When I came back from the World Games, I became more than just a boy with down syndrome,” Bunton said.
“They didn’t just see my disability, they saw me as a person. Sport was the foundation for me to become who I am today.”
The Special Olympics charter is to give people with an intellectual disability greater opportunities on the sporting field but also branch out into other aspects of their life.
Bunton joined in 2003 before competing in his first Junior National Games in 2004 but success is not what drives Bunton to compete.
“[Special Olympics] helps me with my social skills and being with friends,” he said. “It means a lot that all the hard work and practice I do is going to be shown to the country. But it’s not about winning gold, it’s about doing the best you can.”
Special Olympics has been good to Bunton, who has gained greater opportunities outside the sporting field with the athlete leadership program.
In the program, Bunton has learned more skills and gained greater independence. He also works part-time with Special Olympics Australia.
It has opened other opportunities for Bunton who is also a budding actor. He has appeared in Australian movie Down Under and TV shows Doctor Doctor and The Other Guy and hopes for more roles in the future.
He also works with young gymnasts after completing qualifications in gymnastics coaching.
“I like being able to share my knowledge with them with all the things that I’ve done,” Bunton said. “Now I can give them the skills that I learned when I was their age and develop their skills. I get more confidence in my skills and the way I perform.”
The Special Olympics National Games will be held in Adelaide in April 16-20, 2018.