South Sound athletes had a good showing at the 2016 Special Olympics Washington summer games that concluded Sunday, including Jesse Seward, 25, who powerlifted his way to four gold medals.
Seward, a member of the Tumwater Valley Power Dragons, won gold in the dead lift, bench press and squat, plus a fourth gold medal for lifting a cumulative weight of 1,045 pounds. Seward was wearing all four medals on Sunday at Cowan Stadium on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, when he stopped a reporter to talk about his accomplishments.
Seward was among 1,800 athletes who spent three days at JBLM. The base has hosted the statewide summer games for more than 40 years. This year’s games kicked off Friday with opening ceremonies, including the parade of athletes, followed by the games themselves on Saturday and Sunday. The five main sports are soccer, track and field, swimming (which took place at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way), cycling and powerlifting.
“They make this event sing,” said Dan Wartelle, Special Olympics Washington spokesman, about JBLM and its role in hosting the event, which includes providing spotters for the powerlifting portion of the games.
South Sound athletes were well represented on Sunday during the track and field events at Cowan Stadium.
UP Pride of University Place fielded eight athletes, said longtime volunteer and coach Jack DeLeon. DeLeon was first introduced to Special Olympics in the 1970s through his brother, he said. Jack also has a son, Douglas, who was born with Down syndrome and competed on Sunday.
Another member of UP Pride was Nichole Coltrain, 18, who ran track and field for Curtis Senior High School, she said. She won gold medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and broke personal records in both races.
“I love the competition,” said Coltrain, who added that she plans to train for the 2020 paralympics in Tokyo.
Thurston County Fast & Furious fielded 17 athletes for track and field, said coach Lori Miller, including longtime participants Marion McDaniel and Jennifer Cagg.
McDaniel, 51, won bronze medals on Sunday, while Cagg, who has been participating in Special Olympics since she was 19, won silver in the 200-meter run.
“I like running because it keeps you healthy,” said Cagg, who added that she also likes to see the “cute Army soldiers.” That led a nearby airman to ask, what about us?
“And the Air Force guys, too,” she said, laughing.
McDaniel praised the Special Olympics for a different reason: “I fit in,” she said.
She said the world outside of Special Olympics, which she called a community, makes fun of those with intellectual disabilities.
“But here,” McDaniel said about the games, “you feel awesome.”