By Leah Banks

FAYETTE — On Saturday, Special Olympics athletes in Fayette County traveled to Emory University to display their talents and compete in the State Summer Olympic Games. 

The games took place beginning last Friday with opening ceremony and a first responder torch run signaling the start of the event. The university hosted a range of athletic competitions from swimming to tennis to track and field. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fayette County athletes spent time preparing and developing their talents for this years’ state stage. 

For Therapeutic Coordinator Brent Thompson, while Fayette County had a smaller group competing in the games this summer, he was excited to see the hardworking athletes showing their talents.

We had about 15 athletes going to the summer games, which is a big drop from the around 70 that we had before COVID. We had one volleyball team. We had three athletes in tennis, five or six in swimming and two in track and field, ” Thompson said. 

The event began with the tennis skills competition. This includes short court 2 and 3 singles and level 5 singles competitions. Following this event was the level A swimming competition. 

At the end of day one, the athletes came together in celebration of the games at the

opening ceremonies. It was there that athletes and coaches were able to celebrate the lighting of two cauldrons. 

Following the celebration, athletes took to the fields, pools and courts to compete in their respective events. Fayette County had athletes competing both Friday and Saturday. 

Thompson was proud of the efforts of the athletes and was happy to see them competing after years of delay due to the pandemic. 

“I felt great! It was nice seeing everyone compete. I  know everyone has been wanting to get out there and compete and get back to a sense of normalcy,” Thompson said. 

While the USA Special Olympic Games begin on June 6 and take place in Orlando Florida, Thompson is proud of the athlete of Fayette County who made an effort to do their best and shine both on and off the competition field.

“I think they all had a good time and they all did well to the events that they were in. Just seeing them compete and have fun was awesome,” Thompson said.