By KATE BARBER PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
Amy Batchelor has been selected to represent New Zealand in equestrian sport in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi next March.
More than 7000 Special Olympics athletes representing more than 170 countries will participate, making the event the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world for 2019.
Amy, aged 26, has global developmental dyspraxia, which means “it takes me a bit longer to learn things”, she says.
“It also affects my co-ordination. I always have to think and plan what I need to do before I do it to see if it will work.”
Amy is part of the Special Olympics Canterbury team, coached by Lynda Barrington
Amy has been riding with Sandow Riding School, now based in Omihi, for 16 years.
“Riding is an amazing sport, and I love getting to do it with my friends,” she says.
Lynda says Amy is a mentor for the rest of the Canterbury team.
“She is always looking out for others. She is so kind and caring, and is really community-minded.”
Lynda says Amy also has the dedication, independence and maturity required of athletes at this level.
“We are all so proud of her.”
Amy’s mum and dad are over the moon, and will be flying over to Abu Dhabi to support her.
“We are super excited,” says her mother Marlene.
“We know she will give her best.”
In 2011, Amy applied for selection to represent New Zealand in the World Games in Greece. She was named as a reserve.
She had been trying to get into the team for two previous World Games, and this time her determination and commitment paid off.
Riding is one of the most fascinating sports during the Games – requiring balance, stability and communication between the horse and rider.
“It will be an amazing experience, getting to represent New Zealand doing what I love best. Horses are amazing animals and you build such a bond with them.”
Amy is one of three riders in the New Zealand team.
New Zealand will also put forward competitors in swimming, athletics, bocce, basketball, bowling, powerlifting and football.
She is joined by fellow Canterbury athletes Kyle Harpur (athletics), Carlton Vivian (basketball) and Richard Wilmot (bowling).