EC teen beats odds to triumph at World Games

Keenan Groep, with his mother, Heidi Groep, after the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi,
Keenan Groep, with his mother, Heidi Groep, after the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi,
Image: SUPPLIED

Breidbach teenager, Keenan Groep, who taught himself to swim and practiced for an international swimming event in a local river, won a bronze medal in the 25m freestyle at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi in the United Emirates.

The Special Olympics, which has been running for the past 50 years, is the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event and a global movement which focuses on the empowerment of people with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport.

Team SA, which consisted of 71 athletes competing in sporting codes such as football, futsal, table tennis, equestrian, swimming, athletics and golf, won a total of 44 medals – 20 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze. Keenan was the only one of the seven Eastern Cape athletes to win a medal.

Keenan, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), was part of more than 7,000 participants from 190 countries who took part in the games held from March 7-March 21.

The 19-year-old pupil, who attends Fundisa Special School in King William’s Town, was also placed fifth in the overall 4x25m freestyle and fourth in the 25m backstroke event.

Raised by a single mother with three other children, Keenan was diagnosed with ADHD at age seven and says going for a swim in the Yellow Woods River kept him calm.

He was later coached by a teacher and his uncle. His mother, Heidi Groep, said she was very proud. “My late mother always said Keenan was a very special boy, and now we can see what she meant,” said Groep.

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