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Federal Way Special Olympians strike gold in Summer Games
In a rare development in Western Washington this spring, the 2011 Special Olympics Washington Summer Games actually took place under blue skies and 70-degree weather last weekend.
The Games, which included approximately 4,000 athletes from around the state, were held Friday through Sunday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The weekend-long event included athletes of all ages competing in soccer, track and field, swimming, cycling and weight lifting.
In total, 103 athletes from Federal Way competed at the 2011 Special Olympics Washington Summer Games in Tacoma in track, swimming and soccer.
But a pair of Federal Way soccer teams had a little bit better time than most during their trek to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The Federal Way Public Schools Stars Senior Unified B team and Junior Unified A soccer teams both brought home gold medals from the summer games on June 5. Being labeled a “unified” team in the Special Olympics means athletes with intellectual disabilities are paired with teammates without disabilities to form teams for training and competition.
The Federal Way Junior Unified A team won 2-1 against a tough unified team from Tri Cities in the championship match on Sunday.
“The look on my team’s faces said it all — joy and pride,” said head coach Jason Nelson. “The Special Olympics Athletes Oath is ‘Let me win, but if I can not win let me be brave in the attempt,’ and these children were brave win or lose.”
The Junior Unified A team included Trinity Nelson, Griffin Williams, Noah Nettles, Breanna Beyer, Tommy Hollins, Isabel Williams, Victor Hernandez and Nathaniel Nelson.
The athletes from around Washington participating in the 2011 Summer Games were just a small part of more than 9,000 athletes who participate in Special Olympics programs across the state each year, according to Dan Wartelle, a spokesman for the Special Olympics Washington organization.
Special Olympics Washington has a huge community impact in the state. Along with the thousands of registered athletes in Washington there are also 8,000 volunteers and 1,500 volunteer coaches. Athletes range in age from 8 to 85 years old. Special Olympics offers 16 different sports and doesn’t charge athletes any money to participate.
The 2011 Special Olympics Washington Summer Games kicked off Friday night when police officers from around the state gathered to present and light the Flame of Hope Olympic Torch, officially starting the event. In total, more than 85,000 law enforcement representatives carried the Flame of Hope across 35 nations for the summer games, which are being held worldwide.
In this 40th year, Special Olympics is in more than 180 countries and has touched millions of athletes. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.