Local artistic gymnast Chris Bunton broke down in tears after taking home a huge haul of gold medals at last month’s Special Olympics Australia (SOA) National Games in Adelaide.
The 25-year-old, who was born with Down Syndrome, picked up six gold medals and one silver medal across two days of competition.
Competing in the Level 3 division, Bunton finished atop of the podium in Floor Exercise, Horizontal Bar, Parallel Bars, Pommel Horse, Rings and All Round. He narrowly finished second in just the one apparatus, Vault.
Speaking with the Weekender, the St Clair resident said he was overcome with emotion at how well he did.
“When I finished the presentation I cried… I was happy. I was relieved that all my hard work paid off,” Bunton said.
“I felt fantastic and ecstatic. I was just doing what my coach told me to do, I treated it like a normal training day – just do what you can, I told myself.”
After months of training leading up to the SOA National Games, Bunton’s first day of competition didn’t quite go to plan.
“I had a mixed bag of performances, I didn’t look so good,” Bunton admitted.
“After that first day’s competition my coach gave me some really good feedback. Then on the second and final day of competition, I rolled up my sleeves and I did my best.”
While winning is always a bonus, Bunton gets much more out of his gymnastics career than just medals.
“Winning medals gives me a feeling of achievement but it’s not always about winning gold, it’s about doing the best you can do,” he said.
“I also made plenty of new friends down in Adelaide, which was fun. I chatted with them on the bus, danced with them at the disco, went swimming and watched movies with them.”
Bunton’s mum, Halina, said she was very proud of her son for all that he has achieved.
“I was very happy for him that his hard work paid off,” she said.
“I was surprised he was crying after it all, he kept on saying ‘Mum, I’m so happy’.”
Following his excellent showing in the South Australian capital, Bunton is now firmly focused on his next big endeavour – July’s Down Syndrome World Championships in Germany.
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.