HULL swimming star Natalie Moon has made a big splash at the Special Olympics European Disability Swimming Championships in Belgium, recording a record time as she claimed gold in the 100m Breaststroke Final.
Natalie, 19, came home first in the record-breaking time of 1:34.16, ahead of runner-up Oksana Borzenkova, of Special Olympics Russia, and third-placed Susan Hansen, of Special Olympics Denmark.
Adding to the silver medal she had already claimed in the 400m Freestyle Final, it has ensured the Championships have marked the peak of her career so far, having already firmly established herself as the UK’s best in her chosen disciplines.
Natalie is due to return home with her Great Britain teammates on Monday following Sunday’s closing ceremony, and her proud father Arthur says he can’t wait to for a family celebration.
“She has done so tremendously well. To take a gold and silver medal, and also claim a European record, has been absolutely wonderful. All of our family is so proud of her,” he said.
“Natalie always seems to step it up when it comes to the big competitions. She did the same at the nationals recently, where she swam a number of personal bests. Now she has done it again, only at international level.”
Mr Moon, 66, says Natalie went to the Championships in Belgium confident in her own ability, given her success in UK competitions, but went somewhat into the unknown facing the best from across Europe.
However, having stepped up her training with Kingston-Upon-Hull Swimming Club, she shed two stones ahead of flying out to compete, something Mr Moon feels contributed to her stunning success.
“Once Natalie knew she was competing in the European Championships she stepped up her game. She came back from a tournament in the UK and knew she needed to lose some weight. It took her some time to adapt, but what a difference it has made. This is her peak, and now we are hopeful she can go on to even bigger and better things.”
Natalie has been able to take part in the European Championships following a special discretionary donation of £1,600 from the Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust to cover her travel and accommodation costs.
“We can’t thank Neil and Jo Hudgell enough for supporting Natalie,” said Mr Moon.
“It becomes costly to keep travelling across the country, and abroad, to allow Natalie to continue progressing her career, and this tournament was one which looked beyond us at one stage.
“It has been an amazing experience for her. To think she could have missed out, but will now head home as a European Champion and record holder, shows just how valuable the support of the Trust has been. I’m so proud. It brings a tear to my eyes when I talk about it.”