Alex Buesnel: Special gymnastics champion makes Jersey 2017 Island Games squad

Alex Buesnel
Alex Buesnel is a British Gymnastics ambassador

British special gymnastics champion Alex Buesnel has become the first gymnast with learning difficulties to make Jersey's Island Games squad.

The 24-year-old, who has autism, is a nine-time British champion and won gold at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

He is part of a 13-strong squad heading to Gotland this summer.

"It's a great honour and I'm really pleased that records keep breaking," Buesnel told BBC Radio Jersey.

Gymnastics was left out of the programme at the 2015 Island Games in Jersey.

But Buesnel won two silver medals as part of a Jersey squad that went to a gymnastics event in Ynys Mon organised by islands who still wanted to compete.

"I was relieved and honoured when I found out I'd been selected. Hopefully I'll get a medal," added Buesnel, who trains 17 hours per week with both the mainstream Jersey squad and the Jersey Special Gymnastics Club.

"It's great news and we're really pleased for Alex as he's worked really hard to be at the top of where he can be in disability sport," Paul Patterson, from Jersey's Sports Association for the Disabled told BBC Sport.

"The only place he can move to now is mainstream sport and the fact he's made that jump and he's doing well there means he can only improve more and more.

"He's a great role model for people to aspire to in the future," he added.

Jersey coach Ben Frith added: "It goes to show that he is up to the level and we expect good things again in Gotland."

"He's the first special gymnast to make our squad, so it's a great achievement for him."

The last time gymnastics was included in an Island Games was in Bermuda in 2013, when Jersey's Bonita Shurmer took gold in the asymmetric bars.

She will to compete again, alongside Zee Adamson who was also part of the team that went to Bermuda 2013.

Jersey squad: James Evans, Andre Romeril, Zee Adamson, Alex Buesnel, Cameron Aird, Isaac Macintosh, Anushan Elanco, Dan Lee, Ellen Marett, Bonita Shurmer, Elisha Rose Stott, Ruby Rose Mahony, Rosie Xiang Ru Willis.