Two Cowetans place at national competition
by Celia Shortt
Cowetans Justin Wasil and Forrest Bolton excelled at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games this month and won a combined five medals in cycling.
“It inspires me, just to see all their hard work come together at the national level,” said their coach Wendall Warr. “It inspires me that anything is possible.”
Wasil and Bolton were among the 18 athletes who made up Team Georgia for the 2014 USA games, and cycling was one of five sports the team represented. Team Georgia also included eight coaches and unified partners.
They qualified for the national games by winning in the 2012 Fall state games and then competing in the 2013 Fall state games. Throughout this past year, both trained and practiced with Warr and on their own.
Warr has been involved with Special Olympics for about three years, and this trip to the USA games was his first. He is certified in only cycling, but plans to become certified in other sports, too. He also teaches physical education at East Coweta Middle School.
At the USA games, Wasil and Bolton each participated in the three different cycling events – 5k, 10k, and 15k. Wasil earned gold in both the 5k and 10k events, and Bolton earned bronze. In the 15k event, Wasil earned bronze, and Bolton came in sixth place, earning a sixth place ribbon.
“I thought they did a great job and am pleased with how they represented Coweta County and Team Georgia,” said Kelly Abercrombie, coordinator for Coweta Special Olympics. “We’re very pleased with how they did.”
The USA games were held in and around Trenton, New Jersey, from June 15 to 20. But for Wasil and Bolton, the competition was only part of the overall experience. Over 3,000 athletes participated in the games.
The trip began for all of Team Georgia with flights on four private Cessna Citation planes. Once in New Jersey, when they were not competing, Wasil and Bolton were able to sightsee all around, including New York City and the Statue of Liberty.
Both Wasil and Bolton enjoyed the competition and experience and said they enjoyed competing against cyclists from other states.
“They made friends and got to do things they hadn’t done before,” said Warr. “That’s what Special Olympics is about. If they ever had the opportunity to do this again, they would do it in a heartbeat.”
Wasil is 2014 graduate of East Coweta High School, and Bolton is an upcoming senior. Both are involved with the Coweta Special Olympics.
Earlier this year, the Coweta County Special Olympics held two large events. Its 2014 Spring Games were held on May 1 at Newnan High School’s Drake Stadium. The games had been delayed from earlier in the week due to severe weather in Coweta County. Even with the delay 344 athletes competed in the games.
Later in May, Coweta Special Olympics held its 2014 bowling championship at Junction Lanes in Newnan. The championship was opened by Cowetan and former University of Georgia football player Tray Matthews.
“I’m glad to be here and to see these beautiful kids and their parents,” said Matthews at the start of the tournament. “It’s my pleasure to be here. Have fun.”