The 2014 Special Olympics USA games are just a few short weeks away, but our local athletes have been training tirelessly for months. Training for this year started back in August, but many of these athletes have been competing for years.
Every week, Jordan Svehlak looks forward to hitting the gym. That's because this power lifter is training to compete in the 2014 Special Olympics USA games.
"Oh man, I'm excited. I'm pumped, very pumped," Svehlak said.
He started competing when he was 16 years old. The sport was picked at random, but he hasn't looked back since.
"Oh my God, it's like not ordinary cause standing there, grabbing the bar and feeling how strong I am," Svehlak said.
Svehlak and his teammates practice every week at a Round Rock YMCA. They focus on the three basics of powerlifting, deadlifts, squats, and bench press. Every practice their coaches give them an even bigger goal.
"Very rewarding. It's nice to see them come in not knowing what to do and later on lifting heavier and heavier weights," said Gerry Beauchesne, coach for the Hill Country Stars.
Special Olympics offers individual and team sports that provide meaningful training and competition opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities. This year's USA games will be in New Jersey. It will feature nearly 3,500 athletes competing in 14 Olympic-style sports. They will be there with the support of 1,000 coaches, 8,000 volunteers and 50,000 family, friends and spectators.
In that crowd will be Jordan's parents. His father, James, is also an assistant coach for the team. They all made the trip to Shanghai so they could see Jordan compete at the 2007 Special Olympics Summer World Games. There he won two bronze and a silver medal. James tells me there's no better feeling than seeing your son succeed. "I'm very proud of him, very proud of him and words don't explain how proud we are of that boy he's done real well," Svehlak said.
James also tells us competing has allowed his son to really shine, gain fitness and confidence. "Going to Princeton is going to be, the competition up there, is going to be fierce, really fierce," says Jordan.
The 2014 USA National Games begin on June 13th. Every week, we'll introduce you to one of our Central Texas athletes on MyFOXAustin.