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Being asked to train a superstar, no pressure!

A Guest Blog by Sam Doran to mark Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

I met Sam six years ago when he came into my class as a massage student. I can see potential with a capital P and this guy had it in bucketfuls. We’ve remained in touch as we are now colleagues sharing our interest in healthy body healthy mind.

When I first walked into Crumlin College of further education in 2016 at the age of 21, I never thought I’d be in the position I am now. I never thought I would be fortunate enough to meet a uniquely amazing mentor in Regina Curley.

When I first met Regina, it felt like I had already met her before! I was incredibly fortunate to work under & learn from an exceptional woman like Regina. With her bubbly, witty & outgoing personality every class was like a show. I would enter into Friday morning holistic massage classes not knowing what to expect but always left feeling full of joy, laughter & enthusiasm afterwards.

Fast forward to summer 2019.

I received a text from Regina asking if I would be interested in training her son Geoff who was recently representing team Ireland at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi. Geoff was interested in maintaining his fitness levels while building upon the new found confidence he had gained since becoming an Olympian!

Geoff's Athletic Profile on the Special olympics world games website
Geoff's Athletic Profile on the Special Olympics World Games website

Team Ireland heading to the Special Olympics 2019 in Abu Dhabi
Team Ireland heading to the Special Olympics 2019 in Abu Dhabi

Without hesitation I accepted. I was very excited & nervous to begin training with Geoff.

Excited because I knew it would be an opportunity of a lifetime, nervous because I had never trained anyone with down syndrome before so naturally I was fearful of messing up, not establishing rapport with Geoff & if I was able to deliver a service that he would find fun, engaging & beneficial.

Geoff celebrating with his teammates of Team Ireland.
Geoff celebrating with his teammates of Team Ireland.

After the first session my fears & worries were eradicated.

It was unbelievable to see how quickly Geoff would adapt to any form of physical activity or training stimulus. Geoff started by doing body weight squats in his first few weeks, he then shortly progressed on to performing deadlifts & pushing a weighted sled in a short time afterwards, what an incredible turn around!

After the first few weeks, the rapport between Geoff and myself had blossomed, going from coach and athlete to good friends.

Our greetings started from a hand shake & quickly evolved into a hug.

The start of each session evolved from chatting and checking in with Geoff to Geoff destroying me in pool. I am yet to actually win a game of pool with Geoff, what a pool shark!

We also love to discuss our favorite sports, including football, GAA, basketball & bowling. Unfortunately Geoff is a Manchester United man so we do have some differences (As do all great friendships) but we then bond over our mutual love of the Dublin GAA team. Yup Mayo for Sambos!!

Some action shots of Geoff being a beast!

As a coach I couldn’t measure or quantify how it was working with Geoff, but to say the least it was a unique memorable experience.

The endless love, compassion, belly laughs, humorous remarks and insightful coaching Geoff gave to his mum Regina while she was working out too.

The aptitude & attitude Geoff displayed when entering into each session was incredible.

For Geoff some days were hard, some days were easier, but the underlying constant is that Geoff showed up twice per week. This is an insight into some of the few amazing qualities Geoff possesses; consistency & dedication.

We loved an after workout picture :)
We loved an after workout picture :)

I will be eternally grateful & appreciative to Regina. Not only did Regina teach me the skills to perform holistic massage treatments, she also instilled something in me that I never had before meeting her in 2016 and that was - self believe & self love.

I will be forever grateful to Regina for allowing me the opportunity to meet and train her son Geoff, for the endless love, compassion, empathy & patience he has unearthed in me, is something I try to carry across in every aspect of my daily life.

To say the least, my life has never been the same since meeting Regina & Geoff.

Thank you for being two constant shining stars within my life to date.

Sam Doran.

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