Special Olympics champion inspires Team GB ahead of Paris 2024

  • Taylor MacKenzie, who won double gold at last year’s Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, has shared her advice and experience with athletes competing at Paris 2024
  • The Dundee-born swimmer encouraged medal hopefuls to embrace their nerves – but also take time to enjoy their moment in the spotlight
  • Taylor, 16, is among several Special Olympics athletes taking part in a Coca‑Cola campaign to inspire athletes ahead of the Games
  • Special Olympics Great Britain uses the power of sport to transform the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities

A Dundee-born swimmer has shared her life-changing experience of winning two Special Olympics World Games Gold medals at just 15 years old, as part of a Coca‑Cola campaign to inspire British Olympians competing in Paris this summer.

Taylor MacKenzie, who has autism and intellectual disabilities, was one of Team Special Olympics Great Britain’s youngest competitors, and one of the youngest medal winners, at last summer’s Special Olympics World Games in Berlin – and now she has urged British athletes to embrace their nerves and enjoy the moment as they pursue their own place on the podium.

Taylor is one of several Special Olympics athletes sharing their advice and experiences with Olympic athletes as part of a new campaign by Coca‑Cola to inspire success in Paris, as well as raising awareness about the Special Olympics movement and the transformational sports opportunities for its athletes.

Reflecting on her experience of securing gold in both the 200m and 400m freestyle races last summer, Taylor said: “I think it’s the focus that’s important. Confidence is key but nervousness is power. It really drives you through that race, or whatever you’re going through.

“The feeling is something you can’t even express,” she added. “At the end of the day I think the nerves are overruled by the enjoyment and the people you meet along the way. Just try living the moment, try and enjoy it as much as you want. Bring your camera and film everything!”

The Special Olympics World Games is the largest humanitarian event in 2023. At Berlin 2023, more than 6,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities and Unified partners from more than 170 nations competed. Taylor was one of the 82 athletes representing Special Olympics GB.

The Coca‑Cola Company has been a dedicated global founding partner of Special Olympics since 1968 and a proud global sponsor for over 55 years. Last month, the company announced an eight-year extension through 2031.

This summer, Coca‑Cola is giving Special Olympics athletes the chance to send messages of inspiration, advice and good luck to those getting ready for the games, before travelling to meet fellow athletes at Paris 2024 and experience the magic of the Olympic Games together.

Reflecting on the impact of her experiences at Special Olympics World Games in Berlin on her life, Taylor said: “I think through swimming, I really developed that sense of confidence that I wouldn’t have found without it, and it’s really got me through lots of tough things and made me the person I am today.

“I came back [from Berlin] and so many doors opened for me, whether that was getting interviewed or getting put on billboards, or even just getting recognition from people who have been in the same situation as me. It really felt like I’d made an impact on people’s lives and that was really special to me.”

Dusan Stojankic, General Manager of Coca‑Cola Great Britain, said: “At Coca‑Cola, we’re committed to making the dreams of Special Olympics athletes come true, building on a legacy of more than 55 years of partnership championing true inclusion. Taylor is an inspiration to every athlete competing at Paris 2024, and we are thrilled to give her the chance to experience the magic of the Olympic Games with us this summer.”

Laura Baxter MBE, Chief Executive of Special Olympics GB, said: “For many years, the Special Olympics movement has been using the power of sport to transform the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, and Coca‑Cola has played a key part in that as a founding partner. We’re very grateful to have such magnificent support for our work, but also for giving this fantastic opportunity to Taylor to be part of this campaign and to help inspire the athletes representing our nation in Paris.”

To find out more information, visit: https://www.coca-cola.com/gb/en/sustainability/this-is-happening/special-olympics


Notes to editors:

For any further information, please contact:

MHP -  cocacola@mhpgroup.com

About Coca‑Cola Great Britain

Coca‑Cola Great Britain is responsible for marketing 13 brands and over 55 products to consumers across Great Britain. Led by Coca‑Cola, one of the world's most valuable and recognisable brands, our company portfolio includes Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Oasis, glaceau smartwater, Schweppes and Powerade. The Company is committed to a World Without Waste. All its packaging is recyclable, and it has a global goal to collect and recycle every one of its bottles or cans by 2030.