Two Gymnasts, One Coach to Travel to Abu Dhabi in March
Two Kentucky gymnasts and one coach have been selected as part of the Special Olympics USA team that will compete at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games next March in Abu Dhabi. All are familiar names in Kentucky and beyond. Lexington’s Tonya Cornett will compete in artistic gymnastics. Russellville’s Lee Dockins will compete in rhythmic gymnastics. Once again Lexington Gymnastics coach Mary Fehrenbach will serve as the Special Olympics USA head gymnastics coach.
Cornett, 48, is coming off a spectacular performance at the 2018 USA Games this past summer in Seattle, Wash., which saw her win four gold and one silver medal. She has been a Special Olympics athlete for 28 years and has competed in artistic gymnastics for 24 of them. She has also competed in swimming, rhythmic gymnastics and cheerleading. This will be Cornett’s second World Games appearance. She also competed in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland, where she earned one silver medal in the all-around competition as well as three individual event bronze medals.
Cornett is a Special Olympics leader in every way. A trained Global Messenger, she has spoken on behalf of the organization countless times. She served a term as the athlete representative on the Special Olympics Kentucky Board. As a member of the Lexington Showcats gymnastics and cheerleading teams, Cornett has regularly assisted her coaches, serving as a valued mentor to younger and less experience team members. Cornett is also an outstanding singer and has performed the National Anthem before numerous Special Olympics Kentucky events.
Dockins, 31, is a veteran of World and USA Games events, and has won more World Games medals than any Special Olympics Kentucky athlete. She competed in artistic gymnastics at the 2007 World Summer Games in Shanghai, China, the 2011 Games in Athens and the 2015 Games in Los Angeles. This will be the first time she has competed in rhythmic gymnastics at the World Games level.
At the 2007 World Games, Dockins won gold medals in the floor exercise and vault as well as a silver in the uneven bars on her way to a fourth-place finish in the all-around. She followed that up in 2011 with a five-medal performance that included gold in the all-around, beam and floor exercises, another silver in the uneven bars and a bronze in vault. She defended her all-around title in 2015 with another gold medal, as well as winning gold again in the beam and floor exercise. She also scored a bronze medal in uneven bars.
Dockins is coming off a stellar performance in artistic gymnastics at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, held this past July in Seattle, Wash. Dockins earned five medals, with one of her three golds being the all-around title. It was her first USA Games all-around gold in three tries.
Dockins is one of four Special Olympics athletes currently featured in an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History that commemorates the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics. The exhibit includes the leotard and hand grips Dockins wore at the 2007 World Games.
Both Cornett and Dockins were part of the “Fab Five” gymnastics squad that Kentucky sent to the 2018 USA Games, which was featured during the ESPN coverage of the Games.
Fehrenbach, also of Lexington, will serve as the head gymnastics coach for Special Olympics USA for the Games. She will be making her sixth trip to the Special Olympics World Games, having also coached gymnastics at the 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 Games.
Having coached in both Virginia and Kentucky, she has been a Special Olympics coach for 27 years and was named the Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year in 2011. In addition to coaching at the World Games, Fehrenbach has been the head gymnastics coach for Team Kentucky at each of the four Special Olympics USA Games that have been held. Her five gymnasts at the 2018 USA Games racked up a whopping 22 medals, including 12 gold. Three of the five won gold in their all-around competition with one other claiming the silver.
In addition to gymnastics, Fehrenbach has coached multiple Special Olympics cheerleading squads. Her work with the Legacy Showcats in Lexington helped pave the way for special needs cheerleading programs throughout the United States.
The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held March 14-21, 2019, in Abu Dhabi. It will be the first time the World Games have been held in the Middle East. The Games are expected to bring together more than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries to compete. This will be the fourth time that the World Summer Games have been held outside the United States. The others were in 2003 in Dublin, Ireland; 2007 in Shanghai, China and 2011 in Athens, Greece.
For more information about the athletes named to the Special Olympics USA Team for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games, contact Special Olympics Kentucky President and CEO Trish Mazzoni at 800-633-7403 or via e-mail at email@example.com.