Meet Gary Burton
Gold Medalist Skiier in the Special Olympics
Gary Burton, 37, is a gold medalist skier in the Special Olympics, and like many people across Ireland, Covid-19 signalled a huge loss to his way of life.
“I qualified for the 2020 Special Olympics Ireland Winter Games, but they were postponed until next year,” said Gary. “Bringing home the gold medal for skiing in 2013 from South Korea felt amazing, so after all my training and all the excitement, the news that I couldn’t compete this year was a really big disappointment.”
Gary also relied on going to his sports clubs everyday, finding that the social aspect and the routine of his exercise sessions were an essential part of his wellbeing.
“Competing has been fun and challenging and it’s given me the chance to meet new people, see new places and have good craic with my friends. I would see my friends every day in my sports clubs, so when that all stopped it was a really tough change.”
Bringing home the gold medal for skiing in 2013 from South Korea felt amazing, so after all my training and all the excitement, the news that I couldn’t compete this year was a really big disappointment.
Although he can longer maintain the same routine, Gary has now embraced new ways to keep active and social.
“I really miss how things were, but now I’m on Zoom four times a week with my sports club doing online dance, fitness and relaxation classes with my friends. I’m also taking part in the Let’s Run programme with Special Olympics Ireland which involves 2 sessions a week of running and walking, and I take my dog Elsa for walks everyday. When things settle down, I’m most excited to see my friends again.”