A Nescot student is preparing to compete in the Special Olympics World Games next month, 79 years after his great-grandfather won gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Daniel Wolff, who is doing the Preparation for Life and Work (PfLaW) department’s Transition into Employment programme, will run the 400m at the competition in Los Angeles.
The 21-year-old, who has autism, will be cheered on by his parents and brother and sister and is now being sponsored by Microsoft.
“I am feeling a bit nervous about going, but excited at that same time,” Daniel said. “My training is going really well, but sometimes I get tired and I have to rest my legs.
“I’m most excited about people cheering for me, and also to hopefully win. I want to do really well, like my great-grandad did, because that would be really good.”
Daniel’s personal best for the 400m is 58.01 seconds, and he trains for competitions by taking part in weekly parkruns around Nonsuch Park in Cheam and in Kingston.
Autism is a spectrum disorder that affects how a person communicates with and relates to people, and how they make sense of the world around them.
Daniel, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, joined Nescot’s PfLaW department in 2012. He moved from the family home to his own flat in Cheam in December 2014.
“I’ve always liked sport, but I didn’t start doing athletics until 2009, and then it turned out I was good at it so I kept going,” he said.
“I prefer running outside, and my favourite place to run is in parks. I like running in Cheam especially.
“Running is a good way to feel really calm and relaxed, because you’re only thinking about your running and not about anything else.”
Adam Beral, head of Nescot’s PfLaW and Animal Studies departments, said: “We’re all really proud of Daniel – to be selected to compete in such a prestigious competition is a great achievement.
“We know Daniel will do really well, and we’re looking forward to being able to follow the World Games from here in Surrey.”
This year’s Special Olympic World Games takes place from July 25 to August 2, with 7,000 athletes from 177 countries competing in 28 venues.
Daniel’s great-grandfather Frederick Wolff, known as Freddie, ran the opening leg of the 4x400m relay in Berlin in 1936, setting a new European record of three minutes and nine seconds with team-mates William Roberts, Godfrey Brown and Godfrey Rampling.
He served in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during the Second World War, and was promoted to captain. He was made a CBE in 1975, and died in 1988.