More than 2,000 athletes competed in the 22nd annual Special Olympics Texas Winter Games in and around Austin on Friday morning.
Athletes competed in powerlifting, volleyball and bowling. Organizers say most of the athletes compete in bowling and that they now host the events at four different venues across Austin since it’s so popular.
Every athlete in the bowling alley Friday was on a mission to roll strikes and take home the gold. But for most of the competitors, there’s more to the game than just the medal.
“I’m so proud of him,” said Diana Martinez. Her son Tino has a speech impediment. “I never thought about him doing what he does right now.”
She says ever since he joined his school district’s Special Olympics Bowling team, they’ve seen a big improvement.
“He has learned a lot,” she said. “He socializes a lot more and I love it because he wasn’t like that before.”
The sport gives Tino and his two other teammates’ confidence.
“I’m excited to be here,” said David Rodriguez, “to be a champion.”
The courage to not let challenges in their lives stop them from having success was shown throughout the day. Success, which as their coach defines, is all about achieving your goal.
“I don’t care if it’s first place, I don’t care if it’s 10th place,” said Pamela Fowler. “If you have done your best, if you have won, that’s all that matters to me, and just teaching them and helping them know the skill.”
“Seeing (Tino) happy is the best satisfaction I can have,” Martinez said. “It’s priceless.”
The Special Olympics said it still needs volunteers to help out during the games.