Local athletes representing team Alabama head to Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando

Published: Jun. 4, 2022 at 12:38 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Forty-five local athletes and their coaches representing team Alabama got a hero’s send-off.

There was lots of cheering and signs of encouragement from family and friends before the athletes departed to Orlando to compete in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games.

“They are very excited, because they post on Facebook every day like one day left, two days, so they counted it down,” said Dana Evans, one of the basketball coaches.

The athletes hailing from Washington County have earned their spots and have been training for this very moment for three months.

“I feel good about it.”

“I’m excited,” said some of the athletes.

They’ll be competing in bocce ball, basketball, golf and cheerleading.

Tony Haig plays on the basketball team and said his inspiration going into the games is NBA star Steph Curry and plans to play just like him.

“I’ll be thinking about him out there. I’m going to go out there, and get the gold medal, and try my best, play hard, work hard, play like champions work like champions,” said Haig.

The major sporting event happens once every four years. For many of the athletes, it will be their first time competing at this scale and their first time away from home and family. Tony said he’s not nervous, well maybe just a little.

“I’m excited and everything and it’s hard for me but I’m not nervous, I’m not nervous, but I’m a little nervous because I’m going to miss my parents.”

Katie Copp, who is on the bocce ball team has competed in the Special Olympics USA Games three times says she’s feeling good.

The team will be staying at Disney resorts with the park being opened to just the athletes on Thursday, adding to the athletes’ excitement, which is already running high.

The games not only give the athletes a chance to show off their physical fitness but also allows them to share their gifts and skills with their friends, family and the world.

Team Alabama said they have gold on their minds and hope to make everyone in Mobile proud.

The games will run from June 5 to June 12. The opening ceremony will be at noon on Sunday. You can tune into ABC and ESPN to catch all the action.

Good luck, team Alabama!

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