Playing to win: Ben's story
Footy fans across the country will tell you that football is not “just” football. Alongside fitness and fun, it provides a sense of community and connection with others that’s hard to beat.
Scope client Sui Watts is living her dream. An avid equestrian with a flair for dressage and two gold medals under her belt, she shows no signs of slowing down!
Sui has been riding since she was two years old, when she came to live with her family in Sydney. Her first pony, “Sunny” inspired her love of horses and riding. Now, surrounded by horses on the family farm, Sui is always keen to jump on her current horse “Diesel” and take him for a spin around the paddock.
Sui is also a keen competitor in dressage – a passion that was ignited when she saw the competition at the Sydney Paralympics. It was then she decided she wanted to ride with an Australian flag on her saddle cloth. Unfortunately, riders with intellectual disabilities are not currently eligible to enter the Paralympics; but they are eligible for the Virtus Global Games.
The Virtus Games are an elite sports event for athletes with an intellectual impairment. They take place every four years, in the preceding year to the Paralympic Games.
Sui was lucky enough to be selected for the Virtus Games in France in 2016 after undergoing training and acquiring qualifications to do so. Her hard work paid off, earning her two gold medals in the dressage team and individual events.
Sui was surrounded by family for the event. “Our whole family of 20 went, even family members from the US, who have been watching Sui ride since she was a little girl, they all went to France to see her compete,” said Sui’s mum, Janett.
“It was a really emotional day and it’s still we find it hard to believe. Never in our wildest dreams could we have foreseen what would happen. I told her to just go and have fun and enjoy the experience”.
When asked about her gold medals, Sui excitedly exclaims, “Yes, two!” But according to her, the best part of the Games was being on the podium when the flag was raised and the national anthem was sung.
Janett says Sui loves the being at events and being around other people who love horses. “Everyone knows her, and the equestrian community has been fabulous. They’ve been her family really. Sui volunteers at the local dressage club and is very much valued. We are very grateful for all the support we’ve had from the equestrian community and from her amazing coach.”
It's clear there’s a special bond between Sui, her horse, and the extended equestrian community. She remains hopeful that one day riders with an intellectual disability will be able to compete in the Paralympics so she can achieve her goal of winning another gold medal on the world stage.
According to Janett, Sui’s favourite saying is at the moment is, “Dreams do come true” – and we believe her!
All the best Sui, we look forward to seeing you on the podium again soon.