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"I like making new friends and getting to know each other. I have been training with some of my friends for 15 years!"

Ellen Maher
Ellen Maher <big>Ellen Maher with her Olympic medals</big>

Ellen Maher, 19, has been training in the Special Olympics Gymnastics program at Y Bankstown since she arrived as a five-year-old with a fear of heights. Her bravery and years of dedication have paid off, earning her four medals – three gold and one bronze – at this year’s Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.

Not only is Ellen an accomplished athlete, she works as an administration assistant for one of Australia’s biggest equipment hiring companies, Coates Hire. She also volunteers with Girls Guides and is into film making.

Ellen says she has the “energy to do all the activities and explore new things” by keeping fit through Y gymnastics and having a personal trainer. Her next goals are embarking on a course to become a gymnastics coach and competing in the Down Syndrome World Games in Turkey next year.

Y Moments caught up with Ellen for a Q & A. Here’s what she said: 

Ellen at the Y Bankstown where she has been training for fourteen years.

Q: What are the best things about training at the Y? 
A: Great friends, great coaches and I have a lot of fun. I like the challenge of learning new things and seeing how much I have improved. 

Q: What is your favourite apparatus?
A: I have two – bars and floor

Q: Congratulations on your success at the World Games. What medals did you receive?  
A: Gold – All Round, Gold – Beam, Gold – Floor, Bronze – Bars, 4th – Vault

Q: How did it make you feel winning those medals? 
A: Happy, proud of myself. My parents are very proud of me. The medal presentation was live streamed, so friends and family all around the world were able to watch too.

Q: When you are competing what goes through your mind?
A: Focus on what I am doing. I hear my coach’s voice in my head.

Q: How do you deal with nerves? 
A: I don’t get nervous doing gymnastics. I only get nervous when I go to the hospital.

Ellen wins gold at the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics World Games this year.
Ellen at her desk at Coates Hire, where she works as an administration assistant.

Q: What were the best things about going to Abu Dhabi? 
A: We went to a music festival in Dubai and the rides were great! Going out into the desert in a 4WD over the sand dunes was great. I rode a camel and had a BBQ out in the desert. The salads and chips were yummy!

Q: What was it like meeting the Governor General and his wife before you went? 
A: It was amazing! They are very nice people and were very friendly.

Q: Describe how it felt to be representing your country?
A: I am honoured, because not everyone gets to do that. Wearing the green and gold is nice.

Q: What are some of your favourite things about your job at Coates Hire? 
A: I love travelling there and back on public transport by myself. The people I work with are friendly and helpful. They supported me a lot when I went to Abu Dhabi. They welcomed me back with a big afternoon tea and invited Mum and Dad to come too. Dad was crying he was so proud and happy.

Q: What does having this job mean to you?
A: It means a lot. I get to learn new things, work with nice people and save up money for my own house and a cat.

Check out family footage of Ellen’s floor routine at the World Games.

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