Back with goldPublished 7:10pm Saturday, January 26, 2013
Beaufort County’s ski team was the underdog in this year’s Special Olympics winter games. The team did not have the luxury of training in snowy climates. They learned the basics then found themselves on skis for their only practice on the powder just hours before the start of the competition.
The team came home from the 2013 Special Olympics North Carolina Winter Games with seven gold medals and one participation medal for a teammate who fell during the competition.
The games were held at the Appalachian Ski Mountain Jan. 6 and 7. Olympic events included alpine skiing and snowboarding.
Gold medalist Nina Buckman loved skiing in the Olympics.
“I like skiing because it’s a great challenge, a great test for me to know how to ski and believe I could do it and put my mind to it,” she said.
Norman Carter skied for the first time at this month’s games and earned one of the gold medals. He said no amount of practice on dry land could have prepared him for the experience.
“But that ain’t nothing like the real thing,” Carter said. “For my first year, I had a blast.”
Janna Logan was pleased with her performance at the games.
“I try my best for the skiing. I got first place,” she said.
The youngest competitor was 9-year-old Rachel Vanderweit. She spent the night away from her parents for the first time in order to participate in the event. Vanderweit won a gold medal.
“I think it says a lot that her mother trusted us to take her,” said Sara Boykin-Clark, ski coach and local coordinator of the Special Olympics.
Heather Binroe said winning a gold medal was an emotional experience. She was also happy to make new friends at the competition.
“Hopefully, I’ll see them in June,” she said.
Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for more than 38,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The programs are for those who have been identified as having an intellectual disability such as Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, autism and Fragile X Syndrome. More than 120 athletes and coaches from 24 local programs in North Carolina and Virginia will participate in this year’s winter games.
The local team is open to those who live in Beaufort or Hyde County. Athletes have already started training for the summer games. They will compete in swimming, power lifting and track and field events. Carter said he would like to compete at everything.
Unfortunately, some sports were not available to local athletes. The size of Beaufort County’s population is not large enough to have paid Special Olympics staff. The entire program operates through the work of volunteers.
A shortage of volunteers has kept Beaufort County from competing in sports like basketball and volleyball.
Carter’s dream of becoming a global messenger, which is an ambassador for the Special Olympics, has also been affected. He needs a coach to help him prepare speeches and practice public speaking.
Wendy Miller is coastal plains area director for the Special Olympics. She works with 25 counties on the east coast.
“The opportunities that we give our athletes doesn’t have to stay on the local level at all. We depend heavily on volunteers to have a vested interest for our people,” she said. “The more we can do for them, the more it opens doors for them.”
All competition events are free and open to the public. To learn more about the local Special Olympics team, contact local coordinator Sara Boykin-Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.sonc.net.