Athletes eager to compete in Special Olympics

Published 6:38 pm Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fifteen members of Team Pike County will compete in the Special Olympics Alabama State Games at Troy University this weekend.

The athletes from Pike County will compete in various track and field events and swimming.

Meredith Welch, who heads the Pike County delegation with her husband, Linn, said Team Pike County is excited to be competing in the state Games and looking forward to the entire Olympic experience.

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“The Special Olympics is more about the fun of competition than about winning,” Welch said. “The Special Olympics is an opportunity for these athletes to build friendships and to compete on a level playing field. They compete against those with the same abilities and to have fun. They try their best but winning is not all that important. It’s the fun of competing.”

The Opening Ceremony for the 2014 Special Olympics Alabama State Games is at 7 p.m. Friday at Trojan Arena. The Olympic events will get underway at 9 a.m. Saturday at different venues on the university campus and around the city.

“The Olympic Village will be available as a place of relaxation for the parents and families of the Olympians,” Welch said. “The Victory Dance at Sartain Hall on Saturday night will be a time of celebration for the special Olympians, their coaches and their chaperones. They all look forward to the Victory Dance and they will have a great time.”

The Closing Ceremony for the 2014 Special Olympics Alabama State Games will be at 8:30 Sunday morning at Sartain Hall.

More than 1,000 Special Olympians are expected to participate in the state Games.

Team Pike County members are Beth Bardling, Muhammed Blair, Marissa Brunje, Louis Chamber, Johnny Corley, Tysheen Eaddy, Heath Flemming, Sairah Garner, Emily Johnson, Brandon Rhodes, David Spivey, Hannah Stuckey, Ryan Taylor and Joey Welch. Team coaches are Shane Tatum, swimming, and Matt Qualls, Elizabeth LoCascio and Ethan and Kelley Thierfelder, track. Numerous volunteers serve as chaperones and athlete buddies throughout the weekend.