There’s more to Thomas Loftus than film and animation.

The ACG Yoobee Wellington student is also a world-class athlete, and at just 20 years old, will be the youngest competitor to represent New Zealand in next year’s Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Held in Austria from March 14 to 25, the event will see 3000 athletes from 110 nations competing in a range of disciplines – everything from figure skating, speed skating and floor hockey, to skiing, snowboarding and stick shooting. Thomas will be one of 390 athletes vying for a top ranking in the alpine ski event.

“I feel really honoured to be one of the thirteen athletes chosen to represent New Zealand for these games. It’s a real privilege,” says Thomas.

“I can’t wait to compete in the downhill events against all the other competitors from around the world. The atmosphere is going to be amazing. There will also be some very famous ambassadors involved, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and former alpine ski racer Franz Klammer, which is pretty exciting.”

Although this will be the first time the Diploma in Animation and Film Production student has competed in a World Winter Games, Thomas is no stranger to competitive sport, and excels in not just skiing, but also basketball and athletics! He has already competed at the Trans-Tasman Games twice, as well as the National Summer Games in 2013 and the National Winter Games last year.

One day Thomas dreams of combining his two passions – sports and film – to carve out a unique career.

“I’m one of those nerds who is a fitness and adrenalin junky. Basically I just love getting outdoors and getting out there, and because I’m also into animation and film I always take my GOPRO with me!

“After I finish my diploma in November I’ll stay on at ACG Yoobee and either study Advanced Filmmaking or Advanced Animation. Eventually I’d love to somehow combine my love for filmmaking with my love for sports – although I haven’t figured out yet what form that will take.”

In the meantime though, Thomas has plenty to keep him busy, juggling his ACG Yoobee studies with some pretty intense training as he prepares for next year’s Games.

“I train at Toa Cross Fit next to Yoobee, plus run and work out in my home gym. Also the team has training weeks at Turoa. It is pretty time consuming, which can be challenging, especially when I also have assessments due, but the Yoobee staff have been very supportive and have helped me a lot with my time management skills!”

If you want to help Thomas get to the World Winter Games click here to check out his profile and fundraising page.