Athletes from Special Olympics Missouri are spending this week at Missouri Military Academy preparing for U.S. National competition. They are part of Team Missouri Selection. To be selected to the team, an athlete needs to win a gold medal at a state event. There are three state events held including a spring one, summer games and outdoor games. The 170 athletes are competing in swimming, basketball, tennis, track, powerlifting, volleyball, flag football, bocce, golf and softball.
A normal day at camp consists of practice in the morning, and more relaxing fun in the afternoon. After the evening meal, the athletes participate in different activities. "Tonight (Tuesday) we are having a scavenger hunt," said Harrison McLean, public relations and volunteer coordinator for Special Olympics Missouri. Susan Shaffer, competition director agreed with McLean stating the athletes have a rugged morning, but a more relaxing afternoon.
McLean said throughout the week the participants get to know each other. "They get to know each other and bond with friends," he said.
Shaffer said after the week is over, 75 athletes will advance to the U.S. National Competition in Seattle, Wash. Twenty coaches will travel with them. The competition will be held the first week in July in 2018.
Shaffer said things have been going well this week. "We have had good weather (so far)," she said.
The camp wraps up Friday. "The last training day is Thursday," said McLean. Friday the team will be chosen that will go to the national competition next year.