A YOUNG man from Barnsley has won a gold medal and helped make sporting history when Great Britain’s basketball team heroes triumphed in the Special Olympics World Championships.

Myles Sanderson, 22, from Brampton Bierlow, helped beat the USA 26-20 in the final round in Abu Dhabi.

Team GB’s win has made history after they became the first team to beat the USA at basketball at the games.

The aim of the Special Olympics is to help people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and skills, being held every two years and alternate between summer and winter.

Myles was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum when he was two and also has moderate to severe learning difficulties.

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He discovered his talent after a chance meeting with basketball coach Steve Woodhouse and ever since the 6ft 7in athlete has been playing up to seven hours of basketball per week.

His mother, Helen Sanderson, who dedicates her time to helping Myles train, said that playing basketball has helped him mature and has been a great benefit to him.

She said: “He flew to Abu Dhabi without me for the first time, which was a big step. During the games we barely saw him because he was busy having fun with this team. I’m a very proud mum.”

Helen and Myles’ aim is to raise awareness of the Special Olympics. Myles’ achievements have generated attention for him when out in public, due to the publicity.

Helen said: “We were once in a supermarket when someone came up to us that must have recognised Myles. It was a bit strange for him, since he didn’t know them but it’s worth it if it’s raising awareness.”

Myles is still in contact with other members of Team GB, which they named ‘Brotherhood of Basketball’. The team will reunite in the coming weeks to celebrate their win.

In the meantime, Myles plans to maintain his basketball skills in the hopes of being chosen to represent Team GB again at the next games in 2021, which will be held in Liverpool.

He is currently taking a break from the gym and his next goal is to complete an assisted living course in Goldthorpe, which involves volunteering with elderly people.

Training for Myles usually includes visiting the gym at Dearneside Leisure Centre three times a week, where he is supported by either his mother or his 78-year-old grandfather.

Martin Prest, facility manager of Dearneside Leisure Centre - ran by Barnsley Premier Leisure - has followed Myles’ journey and is proud of him.

He said: “BPL was delighted to hear about Myles’ achievements, winning the basketball gold medal. Myles has worked really hard to improve his fitness levels at Dearneside Leisure Centre throughout the autumn and winter months.

“I’m sure the improvement to his fitness levels have contributed to his performance and ultimately, the overall team performance and results. Myles was awarded a BPL FANS award, which allowed him to train at Dearneside prior to the Special Olympics.”