GB Special Olympics gold medallist hopes to inspire other hockey players

Ellen at 10 Downing Street earlier this year

A Special Olympics gold medallist from Tunbridge Wells is hoping to inspire others to get into hockey through a programme that gave her the opportunity to try the sport for the first time.

As the Times previously reported on July 5, Ellen Greenall enjoyed a memorable summer with the GB Hockey ID (Intellectual Disability) squad, winning gold at the Special Olympics in Berlin and finishing second at the European Hockey Championships.

Her dad, Chris Greenall explained: “Ellen has had such an incredible summer. To experience travelling to the Special Olympics in Berlin and then the Euro Champs in Germany has benefited her in so many ways – her development over the last 12 months has been incredible.”

Ellen started playing at Tunbridge Wells Flyerz club around seven years ago with her sister Rosie, and is now ‘more confident’ and ‘driven’.

“Ellen is a lot happier and a more confident human being and the social skills she has developed from playing hockey in a team are a big part of that. The team environment has been a huge boost.

“She is much more driven and independent as well. I can’t speak more highly of the set-up at the club and all the work the volunteers do and the support that Ellen has had from England Hockey.”

Running since 2015, the Flyerz programme is a disability-inclusive approach to hockey which enables disabled and non-disabled players to play together.

The 19-year-old’s dad also mentioned the positive impact it has had on the family: “Ellen’s hockey has been a big commitmentfor our family, but it is so rewarding for all of us.

“Most importantly, she’s been able to take some of the skills learned through playing hockey and apply them to other areas of her life. If she can use these to help her be more independent as she gets older that would be incredible.

“There were over 50,000 people at the Opening Ceremony and I don’t think we were prepared for the size and scale of it. The team just gelled really well out there and they’ve all become good friends. There is a real family spirit around the whole set-up – the team and the coaches.

“I have got a great dad and daughter relationship with Ellen. We are both outdoors people and I’ve always been into my sport.

“I hope she continues to thrive and enjoy playing hockey and we’ve all got one eye on the next Special Olympics in Australia.”

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