A kayaker from Kenilworth has won a silver medal at the Special Olympics held in Los Angeles.
Katie Smith, 33, has Down’s syndrome and came second in the 200-metre kayaking singles race behind the American kayaker Jessica Massey.
People like me with a learning disability are very lucky as we can go out and make our dreams a reality by taking part in the Special Olympics.Katie Smith
Miss Smith started kayaking at the age of 12 after joining the girl guides where she earned a one-star kayak badge.
She began to improve after joining a kayaking club in Leamington, and competed in her first Special Olympics in Shanghai back in 2007 when she won two bronze medals in the 200 and 500-metre races.
During the 2009 edition of the Special Olympics Great Britain in Leicester, she managed to take home a gold medal.
When asked what the Special Olympics meant to her, she said: “It’s good because it shows what people with a learning disability can do.
“People like me with a learning disability are very lucky as we can go out and make our dreams a reality by taking part in the Special Olympics, winning trophies and medals in our sport.
Another challenge she had to overcome was being able to live independently, which she achieved in 2010 and cites as one of the biggest accomplishments in her life, along with competing in the Shanghai Games and receiving the Queen’s Guide Award from the Countess of Wessex in 2007.
She works at Marco’s New York Italian at the Holiday Inn in Kenilworth, and her colleagues were full of praise and admiration for her achievement.
The restaurant’s deputy general manager, Louise Sheepy, said: “We were delighted when we heard the news of her silver medal.
“We are so proud that we have been able to work with such an amazing individual.”
Outside of kayaking and working, Miss Smith enjoys dancing, discos, going to the gym, musicals, cooking, and going out with friends from Kenilworth Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied (Phab) group.
She is on the committee of Kenilworth Phab and represents her friends at committee meetings.
Miss Smith is now working back at Marco’s after her exploits in Los Angeles.