Former Young woman sets sail for the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi

Former Young woman Catharine Keir is setting sail for Abu Dhabi.

Catharine has been selected in the Australian team to sail in the World Summer Special Olympic Games in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March.

She will be one of 7000 athletes from 170 nations competing at the Games.

Catharine leaves Australia on March 7, returning to her home in Canberra on March 23.

Upon arrival in Abu Dhabi the Australian team members will spend a few days with host towns and families learning about the culture and lifestyle in the UAE.

Catharine will be doing two days sailing as part of divisioning for the games before four days of competition.

In preparation for her Games appearance Catharine has been training up to four days a week for the past four months.

She has been sailing with Sailability in Canberra for 14 years and has represented the ACT at three National Special Olympics in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

In Adelaide in April last year Catharine sailed off with two gold medals which saw her selected in the Australian team for the World Summer Special Olympics.

Catharine still sails with Canberra Sailability where she honed her skills to become part of the Special Olympics ACT team.

In 2018 Catharine was named the ACT Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year and also picked up the award for most improved in sailing.

Catharine is the daughter of the late Noel and Edna Keir.

She was born in 1966 with Down Syndrome and following Noel’s death in June 1998 she moved to live in L’Arche Housing in the ACT.

Her parents had a strong connection with L’Arche over a period of more than 20 years in preparation for Catherine’s future.

Her brother Michael said Catharine settled into life in the ACT because of her earlier association with L’Arche which involved visits and even short stays which enabled her to get to know many of the staff and residents where long lasting friendships were formed which still continue.

Life in the ACT, he said, changed quickly for Catharine as there were dances to attend, ten pin bowling competitions and a busy social life to be had.

She also commenced her working life doing various jobs and is now a mail lady with the Department of Defence.

“Catharine was always one to challenge herself,” Michael said.

“With this in mind she gained an interest in sailing with the Canberra Sailing Club leading her to travel the world,” Michael said.

Catharine’s mother died in October 2014 but not before publishing a book “Catharine with an A” which chronicled Catharine’s life journey up until that point.

The book is available at HF Gilbert in Young.

Family members in Young are applauding her effort and say “Go, Go, Go Catharine”.

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