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Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week

The following article was posted on June 19th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 15

ALTHETES OF THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SUMMER GAMES

BY KRISTINA SEWELL

Northern Santa Barbara County athletes shone at the Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games at Cal State Long Beach on June 8 and 9.

Nearly 40 local athletes competed against more than 1,100 Special Olympics participants. Rudy Gutierrez, Special Olympics operations coordinator for Northern Santa Barbara County, said the children competed in track and field, basketball, aquatics, bocce, and golf.

“The athletes have been training and competing locally for four months to prepare for the games,” Gutierrez said. “This was the largest Southern California competition of the year.”

All 37 of the local Olympians took home either a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Gutierrez said Will Brown from Lompoc took home gold in the 25-meter and 50-meter freestyle. Brown had some of the fastest heat times during competition.

Gutierrez said the athletes love the Summer Games because in addition to competing, it’s an opportunity to meet other Special Olympians, coaches, and volunteers.

“Plus they always get very excited for the dance, which is always a hit at Summer Games,” he said.

Special Olympics organizations receive an allotment of money to send athletes to Summer Games. The team members are chosen to attend by their coaches and other staff.

“We always try to give every athlete an opportunity to attend and experience Summer Games by sending new athletes each year,” Gutierrez said.

The Summer Games, one of two major competitions held annually, features exciting activities for athletes including a “Healthy Athlete Village” where Olympians can receive health screenings. In addition to 1,100 athletes and 300 coaches traveling from all over for this event, there are also 3,000 volunteers working at the games.

“Special Olympics Northern Santa Barbara County would like to congratulate all the athletes who competed at the Summer Games,” Gutierrez said. “And thank you to all the coaches and volunteers who give their personal time to support the athletes.”