Kayaker Katie Smith is hoping to bring gold back to Kenilworth after being chosen to represent Great Britain at the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles.
Smith, who took up kayaking after moving to the town aged 12, competed at the SOGB National Games in Glasgow in 2005 before bringing back bronze medals from both the 200m and 500m events at the 2007 World Summer Games in Shanghai.
More success followed at the GB Summer Games in Leicester in 2009 but it is on the world stage that Smith wants to prove herself.
“I hope to win a gold medal because that’s the only medal I haven’t got,” said the 33-year-old.
“I want to prove I can do it for my country. I went when I was younger, but I want to see it again now that I am older.
“It will be interesting to see Los Angeles, meet teams from other countries and, hopefully, win a gold medal.”
Smith, who works on the breakfast service team at Marco’s New York Italian in Kenilworth, praised the role her employees have played in her development, which in addition to seeing her represent her country, means she has been living independently since 2010.
“I’m over the moon to be going to LA to compete.
“Training is very hard work, but Marco’s have been very flexible and supported me all the way.
“Carrying the heavy dishes as part of the job certainly helps to keep me fit.
“If it wasn’t for the support of the team at Marco’s New York Italian, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
“Not many of my friends with learning disabilities have a job - I feel very lucky that the management team were so supportive of me.”
Smith will take part in both the solo and group kayaking in the Los Angeles Special Olympics, which begin tomorrow and run until August 2.