Games Get Underway with Incredible Opening Ceremonies
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games got underway today with a spectacular Opening Ceremonies at Husky Stadium on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Wash. The Ceremonies included performances by DJ Marshmello, Ann Wilson on Heart, American Idol winner Maddie Poppe and recording star Charlie Puth. The parade of athletes was led by Grand Marshals Tim Corrigan of Illinois who competed at the first ever Special Olympics International Games in 1968 and Shaq Griffin of the Seattle Seahawks.
Team Kentucky was led into the stadium by golfer Jude Zilliox of Alexandria and by gymnast Aliya White of Lexington. Zilliox was voted the honor of carrying the Kentucky sign at the front of the team by the Team Kentucky coaching staff. Team Kentucky was joined in the parade by Special Guest George Fant. Fant starred at Western Kentucky University and now plays for the Seattle Seahawks and served as a USA Games Ambassador.
Tomorrow at the Games
Because of a new format at the Games, athletes will have an opportunity to win medals earlier than at any previous Special Olympics USA Games. Joseph Ramirez of Murray and Ryan Barts will compete in the 100-meter dash finals. Swimmer Cassie Wright of Louisville will go for gold in the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter individual medley, while teammates Drew Janoski and Megan McCormick of Lexington join her in the 25-meter backstroke and the 100-meter individual medley, respectively. All four Kentucky bowlers – Michelle Barnes of Carrollton, Joseph Jarrell of Olive Hill, Kelly Kunisch of Elizabethown and Daniel Williams of Glasgow – will compete for gold in the singles event. Finally, all five gymnasts – Danielle Blakeney of Erlanger, Tonya Cornett of Lexington, Lee Dockins of Russellville, Jennifer Rhein of Ludlow and Aliya White of Lexington – will compete in the all-around event.
In non-medal events, the basketball and flag football teams will have their first games of this competition tomorrow. Golfers Zilliox and the Unified team of Wake Mullins and Dennis Gaines will play their first rounds.
Be sure to tune in to ESPN2 in Monday at 6pm for the USA Games Highlight show.