The Citation jets that carried Team Kentucky to the Special Olympics USA Games on July 1, returned just a little bit heavier a week later. The added weight may have had something to do with the great food in the athlete cafeteria, but it had much more to do with the tremendous success Team Kentucky enjoyed in Ames.
In all, team Kentucky captured 42 medals at the Games and produced a medal in every sport in which Kentucky competed.
Gymnast and Special Olympics Kentucky Board of Directors athlete representative Phillip Riley led the way with seven medals — six of them gold — in the Level 1 men’s gymnastics competition. Riley won the all-around with a dominating performance. His 9.75 in the vault was the highest score at the meet in any event and his 9.5 on the parallel bars was the second highest. Fellow gymnasts Brittany Snider and Lee Dockins also brought back multiple medals from the Games. Snider grabbed three gold a silver and a bronze and Dockins captured four silvers and one bronze, missing gold in one event by just one one-thousandth of a point..
The Kentucky Aquatics team captured medals in every event in which they competed. Kyle Gathof was one of two Kentucky athletes to capture gold in all of their events. Gathof won gold in the 50-yard backstroke, 50-yard freestyle and swam the anchor leg of the 4×25-yard Medley relay team. Lindsay Davis won a silver and a gold of her own in addition to the relay gold. Jonathan Shelton matched Davis’ performance and Katelyn Hale won a silver and a bronze before swimming the leadoff backstroke leg of the relay for Team Kentucky.
Bowler Keith Cottrell was the other Kentucky athlete to sweep gold in all of his events, winning the singles competition and adding gold in doubles with Mitchell Walls and with the entire Tam Kentucky bowling contingent. Walls won silver in the singles competition before teaming with Cottrell for two gold. Julie Queen won fourth place in her singles competition before teaming with Cindy Cusick for a bronze medal in doubles. Cusick earned a sixth-place ribbon in her singles division, but may have earned the greatest honor of any Kentucky athlete when her ribbon was presented by Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Another great honor for a Kentucky athlete came on the very first day of the competition, when track and field athlete Matt Minning was awarded the first gold medal presented at the National Games. Minning’s 10,000-meter run gold medal was presented by Special Olympics Inc. chairman Tim Shriver. Minning added two bronze medals — one in the 5,000-meters and one as part of the Kentucky 4×100-meter relay team. Bradley Hope captured Kentucky’s only other track and field gold medal, winning his division of the shot put. He also took bronze in his division of the 200-meter dash. Christy Farwell claimed silver in her shot put division and took sixth in her 200-meter dash race. Jeremy Thompson won silver in the long jump and finished sixth in the 100-meter dash. Crystal Maston posted a fourth-place finish in the 100-meters. Farwell, Thompson and Maston won the bronze with Minning in the 4×100 relay.
The Unified golf teams of Casie Siefert and Sarah Hawkins and Jude Zilliox and Chris Frank both medalled in Ames. Siefert and Hawkins rebounded from a tough first day to take silver in their flight, just one shot behind the gold medallists. Zilliox and Frank won the bronze in their flight, just two shots from gold. Individual golfer Chris Revay took fourth in his flight, just one shot out of the medals.
Both Kentucky team sports entries captured medals as well. The softball team rebounded from a disappointing semifinal loss against Pennsylvania to capture the bronze in their division. The Kentucky basketball team overcame a number of hardships during the week to advance to the gold medal game, where they fell to Massachusetts to capture the silver medal.
“I am so proud of all of our athletes and coaches,” said Team Kentucky Head of Delegation and Special Olympics Kentucky Executive Vice President Trish Mazzoni. “We had a very successful weekend and I think that’s a testament to how hard everybody worked to prepare to compete at the National Games.”
For more information about Team Kentucky or the Special Olympics USA Games, contact Trish Mazzoni at 502-695-8222 or via e-mail at [email protected].