Special Olympic athletes compete in spring games at Abe Martin S - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Special Olympic athletes compete in spring games at Abe Martin Stadium

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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

Special Olympic athletes marched into Abe Martin Stadium like champions.

 "These athletes who have intellectual disabilities prove everybody wrong. They come out here, they perform and compete just like a regular athlete," said Norman Arias, Director of Field Services.

The games started with the running of the torch. Athletes were eager to get the games started, after months of preparation for track and field competitions.

 "Today I'm doing the relay, shot put and the 100-yard dash," said Mike, a Special Olympic Competitor.

"I run real hard," said Wendy, a Special Olympic Competitor.

14 teams from across East Texas gathered to compete in the games.

 Ben Iverson is a coach for the Tyler Rose team, he says the games give athletes the opportunity to fit in with the rest of the world.

"It makes them feel normal, we all want to feel special, they're already special, they just want to feel normal," said Iverson.

Competitors of all ages get the chance to contend, bringing their a-game, year after year.

"Come out here and win some medals and participate in sports," said Mike.

Competitor Alan Johnny says, relays are his favorite part of the day.

"I like to bring the baton home," said Johnny.                                     

Despite the challenges they face, quitting is never an option.

"We've got a couple that can barely walk and they'll be out there trying to run," said Iverson.

"Some of them are real fast, and some of them have a little challenge but they don't ever quit," said Arias.

 The rewards of simply participating, last a lifetime.

"Every time they get a ribbon or a medal they wear it for the whole week, two weeks, you got to make them take it off when they take their baths, they're just so happy to win something," said Iverson.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.

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