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Feros Care sponsors Special Olympics program


Power athletes from the Special Olympics Mackay program – which provides training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities – wasted no time getting back on track ahead of the Australian Powerlifting Union (APU) State Championships, which were held in Nambour on August 22-23.

Steadily building their strength and personal best lifts since a return to the gym following shutdowns after their last competitive hit-out at the APU Mackay Open in March, Special Olympics Mackay chair, Kimberly Doyle, said the inspired athletes were well prepared for raising the bar at the Championships.

“We have five athletes who do powerlifting, and four competed at the Queensland titles in the Special Olympics division,” Kimberly said.

“They’d been doing their own training at World Gym Mackay three days a week in preparation, plus we’d meet on Saturdays for technique training with me and their coaches.

“They did great; it’s a real feather in the cap for them and our club, and it was the first time they went away as a team.”


Kimberly said the powerlifting athletes; Donna Barnett, Tammy Straw, Alex Dal’Bo, Jordan Milles, and Frank De Battista, had done themselves and the club proud, particularly after staying committed through lockdown when gyms were unavailable.

The athletes had been working overtime to lift their personal bests, competing at 74 kilo-level up to 84 plus kilos in bench press and dead lift, resulting in Alex and Tammy covering themselves in glory by coming away with gold medals.

Frank and Jordan also competed admirably in successfully lifting their weights but were unfortunately disqualified for early lifts.

Returning to Mackay, the athletes, decked out in their uniforms and Feros Care backpacks, were provided with a hero’s welcome in the latest success for Special Olympics Mackay.

Established in 2012, Special Olympics Mackay provides sporting opportunities, social connection, and inclusion for those with intellectual disability through sport and training.

While providing pathways right through to the top, the club caters for those wanting to get involved from beginner to advanced level, through sports including basketball, table tennis, tenpin bowling, and now powerlifting.

Proud of her athletes’ efforts at the Championships, Kimberly said the focus had been on inclusion, providing all athletes with proper technique and preparation.

“We wanted to provide our athletes with all the information they need to feel fully supported, and with a focus on technique, our athletes can do things right every time and avoid injuries,” Kimberly said.

“They all have a commitment sheet they fill in, which follows APU and International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) rules, and they record their warm-ups, exercises and lifts on top of our technique training with coaches.”

Alex and Tammy’s gold medal performances would have gained them selection in the Australian Powerlifting Union Nationals, but unfortunately, the titles have been cancelled due to the current climate.

While looking forward to a big 2021 where the athletes will once again have a chance at reaching the top, Kimberly said a search for a sport everyone could easily pick up and have a go at led Special Olympics Mackay to powerlifting. 

In hoping to attract more people from the community and surrounds to get involved, an added incentive is that Mackay boasts the only Special Olympics powerlifting program in Australia and has gone from strength-to-strength.

Special Olympics power lifters


Part of that strength is gained through the likes of Feros Care, who provide sponsorship to Special Olympics Mackay. Provided with $4,000 this year in a sponsorship deal towards the athletes’ backpacks displaying their names and the Feros Care logo, Kimberly said it was great to develop kinship to help the club shine.

“Feros Care has been such a fabulous supporter of ours,” Kimberly said.

“Our athletes can walk around proudly with their backpacks; they look great.”

Echoing the sentiments, Feros Care Community Development Coordinator (CDC) Dianne Chataway, said Special Olympics Mackay were a standout for receiving support, and were making a big difference for those with disability in the community.

“We were looking for a great option for sponsorship, and so many people are involved with Special Olympics Mackay, so it’s such a positive and inclusive environment,” Dianne said.

“They support those in the community through encouragement and inclusion regardless of hardships or barriers, and they help people to reach their goals.

“Most of our Local Area Coordinators (LACs) have been to a Special Olympics Mackay sporting event, and they love seeing the encouragement. It doesn’t matter the level of sporting ability, it’s about the passion, encouragement and mateship, which is aligned with our values.

“So, it’s great to help towards providing backpacks that make people happy and provide satisfaction and pride.”

While Special Olympics Mackay has been limited in opportunities due to lockdowns and regulations in the current climate, the powerlifting titles could lead the way for their other sports’ programs to return to long-term competition.

However, Kimberly was just happy to offer more opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities.

“Powerlifting provides great pathways for athletes, male or female, to make it to world title-level or reach their goals,” Kimberly said.

“But it’s all about accessible pathways, and providing opportunities for friendship, mateship and everything that comes with it.”

To get involved with Special Olympics Mackay, visit them online here.

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