Teen with Down syndrome competes in wrestling match
WAKEFIELD, Mass. (WHDH) -- For Wakefield High sophomore Dan Gill, wrestling is in his blood.
“It’s been my favorite kind of sport,” said Dan.
Dan has Down syndrome, and during a match, Dan wrestled on the junior varsity squad with teammates without disabilities for the very first time.
“It was a good match, it was a riot,” Dan said.
He was matched up with Burlington’s Steven Giampapa, a state champ.
“I think it's great, anybody should be able to do that, anybody should be able to wrestle,” said Steven Giampapa.
All through the video, friends and foes cheered for Dan.
“We really had not expected to see him perform as well as he did,” said Kevin Gill, Dan’s father.
At one point, Dan signals thumbs up to his mother.
“The whole thing came out good, I gave my thumbs up to mom and she was laughing,” said Dan.
And Dan got the chance to feel like a champ, fighting hard against his more experienced competitor.
“He took me down three times in neutral, I let him snap me down, let him spin, ride me out on top. So, it was a lot of fun,” said Giampapa.
It gave Dan the confidence needed to keep stepping into the ring again and again.
“We owe it all to the coaches and teammates who worked very hard with him since December to make it all happen,” Kevin Gill said.
The Department of Education recently came out with new rules paving the way for many athletes with disabilities to compete on high school teams.