Team Indiana Shines at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games
More than 50 Special Olympics Indiana athletes and unified partners competed in Seattle last week, earning a total of 42 individual and team medals in a variety of sports.
SEATTLE — At last week’s 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, a select group of Indiana athletes, coaches, and unified partners joined their counterparts from across the nation in showcasing the organization’s message of “inclusion through sports.” And they returned home as champions, earning a total of 17 gold, 13 silver, and 12 bronze medals.
An estimated 70,000 people were in attendance for the Games, held July 1-6 at the University of Washington and additional nearby venues. More than 3,500 athletes and partners competed, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Opening Ceremonies and highlights from the Games were aired by ABC and ESPN.
Team Indiana—made up of 55 athletes and partners and an additional 24 coaches, volunteers, and staff—took part in eight of the 14 offered sports, including basketball, bocce, bowling, golf, powerlifting, softball, swimming, and track and field. Indiana athletes earned at least one first-place finish in every sport except softball, including team golds in basketball, bocce, bowling, golf, swimming, and track and field.
“We are proud of Team Indiana in how they performed on and off the playing field—not only did they win gold medals, they took advantage of this golden opportunity,” said Special Olympics Indiana President & CEO Jeff Mohler, who also served as head coach for Team Indiana. “The 2018 team was like our previous USA Games delegations—they represented the Hoosier state with determination, dedication, and class. And along with athletes from the other states, Team Indiana demonstrated to our great country what the human spirit can do if just given the chance.”
Indiana highlights from the 2018 USA Games include:
Team Indiana basketball, made up entirely of athletes from Special Olympics Indiana’s DeKalb County program, went undefeated in Seattle—winning a thrilling gold medal match over Nevada by a final score of 31-30. The community of Aurora, Ind. rallied around this group before, during, and after the Games, with the local YMCA hosting a rousing post-games celebration in their honor.
Swimmers Jerritt Covington, Hannah Young, Joe Grooms, and Katie Baumgartle came from behind to win gold in the 4X100M Freestyle relay on the final day of competition. Grooms earned a total of three gold medals at the Games, with Young and fellow swimmer Charlie Wilson each winning two.
Unified pairs Kristi Silverman and Troy Atkinson (bocce), Donna and Alise Hazelett (bowling), Alex and Abigale Kieffer (bowling), and Connor Hoyt and David Fullenkamp (golf) all won gold.
Powerlifter Amanda Cayton earned three gold medals, while teammate David Paul overcame great odds to win bronze in the bench press.
Held every four years, planning is now underway for the next USA Games, which will take place June 5-10, 2022 in Orlando.
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ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS INDIANA
Special Olympics Indiana is a nonprofit organization that is a part of the global Special Olympics movement, using sport, health, education, and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1969, Special Olympics Indiana has grown to more than 14,000 athletes and unified partners in virtually every county throughout the state. With the support of nearly 10,000 coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics Indiana provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the participants. Learn more by visiting www.soindiana.org.
ABOUT THE 2018 SPECIAL OLYMPICS USA GAMES
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be held in Seattle, Washington July 1-6, 2018. More than 4,000 participants representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with the support of tens of thousands of volunteers and spectators, will compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. The Games will celebrate the Special Olympics movement and its 50th anniversary; promote the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport; and showcase athletes from throughout the U.S. and the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. The Games also will highlight Special Olympics’ work in sport, education, health and community-building. Learn more by visiting SpecialOlympicsUSAGames.org.