Overcoming obstacles with athletics

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008

By DAISY MOON / Staff Writer

Most people’s idea of an athlete is probably based on the ones they see on television or read about in the media – strong, powerful, flawless.

But what about those athletes that are not able to naturally embody these qualities? There are those who are just as strong, just as powerful and just as flawless, but have to work twice as hard to reach their full potential.

But don’t most athletes have some sort of barrier to conquer? Of course.

However, one group of Shelby County athletes had much more to overcome than the typical athlete before becoming the outstanding competitors they are today.

These are the participants of Shelby County’s Special Olympics held at Thompson Intermediate Friday, April 25.

“They (the children) participate in sports all throughout the year including swimming, soccer, bowling, volleyball, softball and gymnasticsm” said Valinda Pate, who coordinated the Olympics.

After an inspiring performance by several gymnasts in the Thompson Intermediate School gymnasium, all the athletes marched behind a flaming torch, just as they might in the real Olympics.

They then proceeded to the football field where the ceremonies began.

This year, only track and field relays were held, but that certainly didn’t hinder an overwhelming turnout of onlookers.

The bleachers and sidelines buzzed as eager children awaited their turns to compete. Volunteers served up tasty hotdogs and drinks while others, including several University of Montevallo students, assisted athletes as they geared up for the relays.

The Special Olympics is a world-wide program that helps children with physical and mental disabilities get involved in sports and fitness.

Pate said this year’s Shelby County event consisted of children, teenagers and young adults ages 8-21, who are all part of either the Shelby County school system or a homeschool program.

Those athletes who excel in the competition qualify for the state meet in Troy