Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

World Games Spotlight: Ella Curtis, Great Britain

Young woman on her bike.

It's been a hard road for Ella to become a cycling champion—literally. At age six, she had a traumatic fall from her bike; for years, the fear of falling and of the pain never left her. Ella, who has Down syndrome, was terrified and would shake with fear at even the suggestion of a bike ride.  

This was a real blow to her devoted dad, Tim, whose favorite sport has always been cycling. Tim took extra care with Ella, starting her out with a sturdy bike and training wheels. After she fell, he felt responsible; through the years, he kept trying to encourage Ella so that she could also enjoy his sport.  

Ironically, it took a Halloween 'scare' to help end Ella's fear of biking. She agreed to dress up in a costume for a Halloween-themed cycle ride. It was so much fun, Ella no longer associated cycling with fear; from then on, cycling was just "fun." Ella returned to the bike trail the very next week—and even cycled solo. By age 15, her dad's persistence and her own perseverance paid off: after successfully cycling for many years—using a modified bike—Ella got the chance to compete at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Now she’s even more ready for the 2023 World Games in Berlin, with a BIG difference: she’ll be riding a two-wheel bike, not the modified three-wheeler she’d grown used to. Ella and her dad took the COVID lockdown as the ideal opportunity to work on these skills, helping Ella overcome those long-ago fears and practice new techniques on a sleek new bike.  

Meanwhile, inspired by his daughter, Tim has pursued formal cycle coaching qualifications with British Cycling and Cycling UK. He will be the cycling coach for TeamSOGB in Berlin. They are both ready to take on the world!

Read about more Champions!

World Games Spotlight: Anas Khalil Al-Zerba, Palestine

Anas Al-Zerba has made a name for himself as a role model for people with intellectual disabilities, for people with Down syndrome—and for everybody else!
1 Min Read

World Games Spotlight: Rehan Ali, Libya

Rehan grew up in a part of Libya where people with Down syndrome face widespread discrimination in education, training, and even medical care. Early on, her family had to cope with stigma and her rejection from society.
1 Min Read

Taking “Play Unified” to the Next Level

Special Olympics is all about bringing out the best in everyone. Special Olympics Unified Sports, which brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities, takes this transformation to another level. Now, meet a Unified Basketball team from Florida, USA that’s taking the power of “playing unified” to the global level at the 2023 World Games in Berlin.
2 Min Read

Once Excluded, Ablaye Is Now ‘One of Us’

Ablaye Ndiaye is one of the stars of his neighborhood in Senegal’s capital, Dakar. Yet, years ago, he was mostly an outcast due to negative beliefs and stereotypes about people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities.
1 Min Read