Coronationville’s Golden Girl Returns Home

Shirnel showing off her golden medal in Austria.

Shirnel Swarts (16) from Coronationville returned from Austria on March 26, after representing South Africa in the World Winter Special Olympics.

Swarts attends Casa do Sol, a special needs school in Linden.  The young sports star has only been speed skating for less than two years and she already received gold medals to her name.  She received her first gold medal when she represented her school in speed skating during the provincial games.

Speed skating involves the skater racing around an oval course and against other competitors.

It was soon after her provincial win that she and five other classmates were selected to represent South Africa in the Special Olympics. Receiving funding was tough but the radio station 94.7 came to the rescue when they ran a campaign called ‘adopt an athlete’. The campaign helped gain sponsors who funded each child with R49 000 to go overseas.

The team consisted of Kenneth Mokabo, Tyrell Sykes, Anthony Smit, Shirnel Swarts, Thato Serapedi.

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Swarts participated in the 500-meter speed racing where she found herself in fourth place and it was when she was racing in the 333 meters when she claimed first place and received her second gold medal. She said: “I was excited, joyful and more nervous” when she won.

The team spent two weeks in Austria and this was Swarts first time overseas, it was also the first time in an airplane. “I enjoyed the experience, stayed by the hotel, ate nice breakfast, and we went on the train, then we went on the bus and we watched the figure skating then they watched us then we had lunch and then we had bumper cars and we had supper and then we came home” said Swarts.

The team practices at Northgate Ice Rink every Fridays and Thursdays with Coach Lindi van Vuuren from the school.

Shirnel Swarts strikes a pose for the world to see.

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Swarts is now doing roller skating during the weekend and she is also on the swimming Olympic team for the school.

She is a huge fan of Justin Bieber and made sure she did not hide that, she placed stickers of him all over her access cards and name tags during her trip.

“I’m happy to win a gold medal and make South Africa proud,” Swarts said in her interview.

Read more: Watch Bianca Basson Elods Olympics gold medallist

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Janice Beckett

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