Athletes excel at US Special Olympics in Washington

by | July 9, 2018 8:20 am

The Three White County athletes and the two coaches that attended the 2018 US Special Olympic Games are pictured here. The Athletes and coaches include (L-R) Calvin Jones, Mary Bailey, Jill McCulley, Lexi Wilhite, and Nancy Benningfield.

Three White County athletes and two coaches were in action last week as they attended the 2018 US Special Olympics Games. The athletes were part of 4,000 athletes and coaches from 50 states and the District of Columbia.

On July 3, 2018, White County’s Calvin Jones took to the stage to show off his muscles. Jones noted that the judges at the games were tough and that the competition was fierce. Jones was able to achieve a personal best at the games, with a deadlift of 319 pounds, which was enough to win him third place in deadlift. Jones would also pick up another bronze medal in the deadlift and bench press competition. In that competition, the judges would take Jones’ best deadlift and best bench press and combine them. Jones would finish with a total of 529 pounds. Jones would have his best finish in the bench press where he would pick up a silver medal. He would end the competition with a final total of 210 pounds.

The other two White County athletes showed off their skills in bocce ball. Mary Bailey would pick up three medals in the event. On the first day of competition, Bailey would pick up a bronze medal in singles matches. On day two, Bailey and her unified partner, Lexi Wilhite, would pick up a gold medal in the Unified doubles division. On the final day of the event, Bailey and Wilhite would help Team Tennessee pick up a silver medal in Team Unified Bocce when they would join forces with Joseph Brown and Jonathan Malone, of Columbia.

Nancy Benningfield, White County High School special education teacher, who was also Team Tennessee bocce ball coach, commented on her experience and how Special Olympics has changed her life.

“I have worked with Special Olympics for over 14 years, and it has been some of the best experiences of my life,” said Benningfield. “Special Olympics gives athletes purpose, and it also gives me purpose. Most people go into Special Olympics with an attitude of how they can help people with special needs, but it is usually turned around and ends up being how working with Special Olympics ultimately helped them. I always tell volunteers don’t go into this service with how fortunate you are and you want to help. It will usually end up the other way with them helping you. It happens all the time and usually with some tears of gratitude for asking them to volunteer and help.”

The games officially came to a close, on Friday, with the closing ceremony. The next US Special Olympics Games will be in 2022, in Orlando, Florida.

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