By Gymnastics NSW
Chris Bunton: 30, coach, Special Olympics men’s artistic gymnast and Gymnastics NSW Body Kind Ambassador.
Chris has Down syndrome.
What do you like most about gymnastics?
Gymnastics is my passion. I cannot imagine my life without it. I love gymnastics because I keep fit, have a healthy lifestyle, and develop skills in gymnastics and life beyond sport. Gymnastics has taught me to dream big, make goals and achieve them. Also, gymnastics taught me respect, discipline, grit and determination and to learn to accept the result. Besides this, I develop my social skills, and have fun with friends and teammates. I get the opportunity to represent my community, state and country in gymnastics. When I represent and compete at the international level, I get the opportunity to make international friends.
Can you please tell us more about yourself – what age you started and the pathway you took?
I started gymnastics when I was young to improve my fine motor and gross motor skills due to my disability. The beginning of my journey in gymnastics started with my love of having fun on the big trampoline and the huge pit with others. Slowly, I was developing gymnastics skills and progressed to compete when I joined Special Olympics.
My first competition was a pivotal moment in my life. I loved the experience, and I was hungry to learn and achieve more. I continued training, developing skills, having fun, and challenging myself at the gym. All of these made me stronger physically and mentally. I dreamed big and worked hard and I was selected to represent Australia at the Special Olympics World Summer Games. I did well, and won gold in the rings. This competition made a big impact on my life.
After the games I became more confident and, in my community, I became more than just a boy with Down Syndrome. I became visible. After that I continued to dream big, made new goals, and worked for them. I realised that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Sports has helped me to become the person I am today. Now I’m focusing on improving my skills and routines for the next adventure I am venturing on.
We hear you are off to the Special Olympics World Games 2023 in Germany. Congratulations! What are you most looking forward to?
The things I am looking forward to the most at the World Games is to compete in gymnastics and do my personal best. Besides this, I am hoping to catch up with old friends, make new ones and have fun. I can’t wait to wear the green and gold uniform and proudly represent Australia in Berlin.
What advice do you have for other kids/teens that may like to reach the Special Olympics one day?
I would encourage kids/teens to join Special Olympics because they provide lifelong sporting opportunities. Besides the sport they will develop everyday living skills, make lifelong friends and have fun together. Special Olympics is all about our abilities, not our disabilities. I would like to say “Dream big, never give up and just have a go”.
How did you become a gymnastics coach?
Gymnastics was and still is my passion, so after the HSC I studied Certificate III in Sports and Recreation, during this time I obtained a gymnastics accreditation and became a gymnastics coach in MAG.
Who do you teach?
I teach gymnastics at my local gymnastics club to young boys who are learning the basics and the fundamentals of the sport. They also learn everyday living skills such as respect, discipline, safety, and listening to and following instructions when they are at training.
What do you love about coaching?
I love coaching because it gives me the opportunity to share my experience, skills and knowledge with others. Also, I get the feeling that I am a valued community member. I love to watch the growth and development of the young gymnasts, the challenges they overcome and the success they achieve. Gymnastics is a fundamental sport for the growth and development of young people. Gymnastics teaches young people to dream big, set goals and achieve them and learn to accept the result win or lose.