August 07, 2017

Jaymee-Leigh Upton and Amelia Dean. Photo by Luke Hemer.

TWO Echuca netballers have embarked on the sporting trip of a lifetime.

Jaymee-Leigh Upton and Amelia Dean flew out of Australia on Saturday headed for Sheffield in the UK, where they will compete at the Special Olympics National Summer Games.

The event, held every four years, is Great Britain’s largest multi-sports event for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Upton and Dean will represent one of two Australian sides facing off in the tournament with teams from England and Scotland.

The pair’s foray into the international arena came after they received a letter from event organisers inviting them to apply.

They completed a skills test and were ultimately accepted to play.

‘‘I was jumping up and down with excitement,’’ Upton said.

Her mother, Karen, added: ‘‘We were both totally shocked.’’

Jaymee-Leigh and Amelia play together at Echuca Rockettes and work at Murray River Tea Rooms and Task Force.

Jaymee-Leigh also represented Australia at the Asia-Pacific Games in Newcastle in 2013, but neither player has competed in an event as big as these Olympics.

Amelia’s mother, Diane, said she was ‘‘extremely proud’’ of her daughter for reaching the games.

‘‘We never thought this was possible,’’ she said.

‘‘I think when you have children with disabilities, the opportunities don’t seem to arise as much.

‘‘But I think this just goes to show what people with a disability can achieve, and I think that’s most inspiring.

‘‘Amelia always had a dream for playing netball.’’

Her counterpart, Karen, echoed those sentiments.

‘‘It will be a wonderful experience for us in more ways than one,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m so proud. My husband is too.’’

And although they are 17,00km from home, they may find that they have the backing of one of their biggest supporters.

Their Rockettes coach, Carmel Beck, is currently in the UK on holiday and will try and be in Sheffield for the matches.

Jaymee-Leigh said that Beck had worked very hard to give them an opportunity.

‘‘If it wasn’t for her, Amelia and I wouldn’t be going,’’ she said.

The Special Olympics Summer Games start today and will run until Saturday.

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