Every two years, Special Olympics athletes come together to compete at the Special Olympics World Games. This summer, over 6,500 athletes from 165 countries will descend upon Los Angeles to show the true meaning of courage, joy and determination. Special Olympics Florida is proud to have 16 athletes represent the USA at this competition – below are their stories.
In an experience bigger and better than any before, Special Olympics Florida’s Unified Soccer Team from Pasco County takes on the world at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Today, athletes participate in games that determine what division they will play later this week. “There were more people in the crowd than usual,” said Joseph Trammel about their first unified soccer match against China. “I wasn’t nervous at all.” Confidence is key and it definitely paid off today when his team, representing Special Olympics USA, played an intense first game against China, closing it out with a tie of zero. Joseph played his hardest in this game as power forward and said “Work hard, play hard!” Tomorrow his team will play Liechtenstein.
Special Olympics Florida’s unified bowling team Aaron Freitag and Alexio Bautista represented all USA athletes at their first divisioning events on Monday in Los Angeles at the Special Olympics World Games. Results from divisioning will determine what countries the pair compete against later this week and while Aaron didn’t feel he bowled to his full capabilities at first, by the third game he had gotten used to the new lanes and felt he overcame this small challenge. “This event was different from past competitions because of all the people watching me, but it was still joyful because of all the athletes around me,” said Aaron. Alex and Aaron are competing in Unified Doubles, a sport format that pairs athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team as a way to foster friendship and inclusion. The pair from Clay County in North Florida also compete in volleyball together, as well as other sports. There’s no question that Aaron and Alex are off to a great start to and are excited to represent Special Olympics USA!
Special Olympics Florida athlete Andy Miyares is an experienced swimmer with many difficult competitions under his belt, so naturally he is not daunted by the tough competition at the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles. On Monday, Andy swam in not just one, but two open water divisioning events. “It was hard because I had to swim two, but I was happy with how I did,” said Andy. Just a few weeks ago this incredible athlete and his swim team broke two records. Their record-breaking swim broke the S-14 division Paralympics record for the 400 meter medley relay, as well as the 400 meter freestyle relay. Andy feels ready for the week, where he will compete in the 800 meter Freestyle and the 1500 meter Open Water Swim. Even though he’s competed at World Games in the past, he’s still is excited to be in Los Angeles as he works to defy stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities.