SPORTS star Laura Butler will compete at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi this week, representing Australia in the 200 metre sprint, long jump and relay race.
The Pyalong resident and Broadford Secondary College student said she had been going to the gym every night and pracitising long jump training twice a week in Kilmore to prepare for the event.
“I hit a personal best the other night training for long jump,” Ms Butler said.
Ms Butler is excited but also nervous about the competition.
“Sometimes I get really nervous but I just get out there and I feel alright after a while,” she said.
Ms Butler will be joining 17 other Australians at the Special Olympics and 7000 athletes from 170 different countries.
It’s the first time the Special Olympics will be hosted in the Middle East since the movement’s founding in 1968.
“It’s my first time going overseas,” she said.
“It’s going to get up to 40 degrees and it’s outdoors – but if it gets too hot we’ll be competing at night.”
Ms Butler said she had received a lot of support from the community, particularly from Moira Waye of Pyalong Neighbourhood House.
“I’ve now got $7000 to help cover flights and accommodation,” she said.
Ms Butler’s family will fly to Abu Dhabi to support and cheer her on.
The Special Olympics’ mission is to promote positive social change for people with intellectual disabilities and create a more inclusive society.
Ms Butler said she had told only a few close friends that she was competing in Abu Dhabi.
“I’ve kept it to myself,” she laughed.