Special Olympian gold medalist to present Armed Forces Day match ball

Siblings Emily and Daniel Crilly will present the match ball at this weekends Armed Forces Day match in aid of SSAFA 

A Coventry woman has beaten hundreds of other people to represent Great Britain at the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Down Syndrome gold medallist Emily Crilly, 21, from Styvechale is just one of six people that has been selected to represent her country at gymnastics at next year’s games, which take place in Abu Dhabi in March 2019.

The Special Olympics World Summer Games features seven days of competition in 24 different sports, and will be played out in front of around 500,000 spectators.

It comes after Emily – who practices at Coventry Sports Centre every weekend - represented the West Midlands at last year’s Special Olympics National Games in Sheffield where she won a gold medal.

To celebrate her achievement, the Wasps season ticket holder has also been invited by the club to run out with the match ball ahead of their Aviva Premiership clash against Worcester Warriors at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, 14th April (kick-off 3pm).

Wasps are dedicating this weekend’s match to the Armed Forces where they will be raising funds for military charity SSAFA.

Emily’s older brother Daniel Crilly, who is an intelligence officer in Germany in the armed forces, will also be joining his sister at the Ricoh Arena on match day.

Proud parent Mandy Crilly said: “Emily has been practicing gymnastics every week since she was seven-years-old, and her selection for next year’s games is a culmination of dedication and hard work.

“She has competed at two previous national games in Bath and Sheffield where you put your name down to compete and go, but this is the first time Emily has been selected from out of hundreds of applicants.

“As well as having Down Syndrome Emily is partially sighted, so for her to get to the level she is at with her gymnastics is phenomenal. Performing on the beam can be difficult as she doesn’t realise how far she is off the ground, so she’s really achieved a lot to get where she is.

“We are excited and very proud of her, particularly as she is juggling her gymnastics with her studies at Hereward College.

“Hopefully Emily’s story will inspire other people reading this to pursue their dreams.”

Verity Brown, events and match day marketing manager at Wasps, invited Emily and Daniel to the Ricoh Arena after hearing of her achievements.

She added: “Emily and her father Paul have been supporting the club since 2014, and upon learning about her achievement we felt it was right to turn the tables and show our backing as she gears up for her moment of fame.

“A big ‘well done’ to Emily - everybody at Wasps is fully behind her.”

The Wasps Nest Fan Village inside the Ericsson Indoor Arena is open on match day between 12.30pm and 2.30pm, which will see the a variety of Armed Forces-related performances from music through to recruitment stands for young people wanting to join The Warwickshire & West Midlands Army Cadet Force.

Tickets for Wasps v Worcester Warriors on April 14 are available from www.wasps.co.uk starting from £22 for adults, while under-10s go free in some areas of the stadium.