A Knaresborough teenager has returned triumphant from Los Angeles after he and his team mates won silver in the Special Olympics World Games.
James Parker, who is undertaking a business administration apprenticeship with Disability Action Yorkshire, in Harrogate, helped take the Team GB seven-a-side Unified Football squad to the finals.
Over the nine days of the games – which saw more than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries competing in 28 different sports – James scored two goals and played a total of seven matches – two against the Cayman Islands, two against Austria, Bharat (India), Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Despite beating Austria 1-0 in the heats, Austria were victorious in the final, beating James’s team 2-0.
James, 19, said: “It was a fantastic experience and the whole team are on a high after winning silver.
“Even though we had already beaten Austria earlier in the week, they seemed more up for it in the final, and at half time we were one nil down.
“During the interval we had a pep talk from former European heavyweight boxing champion Audley Harrison, who put the fight back in us, and we went out in the second half with a totally different frame of mind and really pushed for an equaliser.
“However, Austria kept the pressure on and sealed the game with a superb second goal minutes before the final whistle.”
James added: “Whilst it was the third Special Olympics I’ve competed in, it was the first World Games.
“The host town was brilliant to us and we were made to feel incredibly welcome indeed. I’ve made new friends with many fellow Team GB athletes.”
Disability Action Yorkshire Chief Executive Jackie Snape said: “Everyone here is extremely proud of James’s achievements.
“We followed each match and were thrilled when he scored twice against The Cayman Islands. Even though Austria won in the final match it’s still a great accomplishment to finish in silver.
“James is proof that a disability should not stand in the way of your dreams. His success is one to be admired and celebrated.”