Five Kentucky Special Olympics athletes have been selected to have the opportunity to compete in the original home of the Olympics — Athens, Greece — when the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games are held there next June 25-July 4.
This is one of the most experienced groups of athletes Kentucky has sent to a World Games, as all five have either previous World Games or National Games experience. The Kentucky athletes and coaches are:
|Josh Alexander, 35, of Union will be the oldest of the Kentucky athletes on Team USA. Alexander will be part of the Team USA Bowling delegation in Athens. This will be his first trip to the Special Olympics World Summer Games since 1995, when he was a member of the Gold Medal-winning soccer team from Kentucky. He has been a Special Olympics athlete for 27 years, competing in softball, basketball, golf and track and field, in addition to soccer and bowling. He won the Dave Hester Award in 2005 as the Northern Kentucky Special Olympics Athlete of the Year. He works at Kroger.
|Ryan Barts , 21, of Georgetown will compete in track and field at the Games. He recently earned four medals at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games in Lincoln, Neb., including a Gold Medal in the 4×100-meter dash, Silver in the100-meter dash and long jump (where he lost Gold on a second-jump tiebreaker after tying for the longest jump in his division) and a Bronze in the 200-meter dash. Barts works at Kroger in Georgetown and has been a Special Olympics athlete for eight years, competing in track and field, bowling, softball and basketball. He is an avid sports fan and served as team manager for the basketball and football teams at Scott County High School as a student there. He is also a big fan of Taylor Swift. It has always been his goal as a Special Olympics athlete to compete at the World Games.
|Danielle Blakeney, 19, of Erlanger will compete in Rhythmic Gymnastics at the 2011 World Games. She dominated that competition at the 2010 USA National Games in Lincoln, Neb., where she won four Gold Medals and one Silver. Her all-around score was the highest of any Level 2 gymnast in any division. A 2010 graduate of Boone County High School, Blakeney has been a Special Olympics athlete for 11 years and has competed in gymnastics for nine. She has also competed in cheerleading and track and field.
|Lee Dockins, 23, of Russellville will compete in Artistic Gymnastics in Athens. She has been a Special Olympics athlete for 14 years. This will be her second consecutive trip to the World Games. She won two Gold Medals and one Silver at the 2007 World Summer Games in Shanghai, China. She also competed at the 2006 Special Olympics USA National Games in Ames, Iowa, where she won three Silver Medals and one Bronze. Dockins was named 2008 Special Olympics Kentucky Athlete of the Year and lit the Special Olympics Kentucky cauldron to open the 2008 Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games.
|Colin Lutz , 18, will swim at the 2011 Games. He earned two medals and a fourth place ribbon at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games in Lincoln, Neb., including a Gold Medal in the 100-yard backstroke and a Bronze in the 100-yard freestyle. He also swam one of the fastest backstroke legs of the meet in the 4×50-yard medley relay in which Team Kentucky placed fourth. A student at East Jessamine High School, Lutz has been a Special Olympics athlete for 12 years. He loves dinosaurs and drawing. He would like to be a paleontologist.
In addition to the five athletes, two Kentucky coaches have been selected as head coaches for Team USA.
|Julie Coon of Harrodsburg will serve as the head Equestrian coach for Team USA. She also served in that capacity for the the 2007 World Games in Shanghai, China and was a member of the Team USA Equestrian coaching staff at the 2003 World Games in Dublin, Ireland. Most recently, Coon was a member of the coaching staff for Team Kentucky at the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.
|Mary Fehrenbach of Lexington will serve as the head gymnastics coach for Team USA. Fehrenbach has been on the gymnastics coaching staff for Team USA for each of the last two World Games (2003 in Dublin and 2007 in Shanghai) and served as the Kentucky gymnastics coach at World Games events in the USA prior to 2003; however, this will be her first time serving as a Team USA head coach. She has also been the head gymnastics coach for Team Kentucky at both the 2006 and 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.
The cost to send Kentucky athletes to the 2011 World Games is expected to be approximately $35,000. If you would like to support the Kentucky World Games effort or if you have questions about the 2011 World Summer Games, contact Trish Mazzonit, at 502-695-8222 or [email protected].