A Dunedin athlete has taken on a new challenge as a Global Messenger for Special Olympics New Zealand.
Ryan Stewart, who competes with Special Olympics Otago, is one of six athletes who will take part in Global Messenger training this year.
The role includes being equipped with the skills to be an ambassador for the Special Olympics and to support and inspire other athletes.
Stewart (32), who has Down syndrome, has been a keen sportsman since his younger days, when he followed many sports, including cricket and rugby.
He first got involved with the Special Olympics in 2010, competing in tenpin bowling and football, but is now more focused on power lifting.
Weighing in at 59kg , Stewart’s personal bests include an 147kg deadlift, almost two and a-half times his body weight, and he has benchpressed 77.5kg.
Stewart also competes in mainstream events and has received many regional medals.
He also won three gold medals and one silver medal from the four power lifting disciplines he competed in at the 2017 National Summer Games.
Stewart said his three favourite things about power lifting and being involved with the Special Olympics were “making new friends, being part of a team and aiming to beat my personal bests”.
He trains three times a week at Valley Strength and Conditioning gym in Kaikorai Valley and is part of the Otago Weightlifting Association.
“It keeps me fit . . . I set my goals, train lots and achieve them.”