Forty-six Virginia athletes are going for the gold at a national competition.
Next week, thousands of athletes from across the nation will head to Seattle for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, which will run from July 1 to July 6.
Woodbridge residents Victoria “Tori” Martin and Sarah Narburgh are among nine Northern Virginia athletes who will be participating in the USA Games.
Martin is competing in three swimming events — 100 freestyle high performance, 100 individual medley high performance, and 200 breastroke.
She has been swimming for Special Olympics for 11 years.
Swimming, according to Martin, is a good form of exercise.
“It’s just a fun sport to do,” she said. “You’re also less likely to get hurt, and I find with other sports you can get hurt doing them. I find swimming relaxing and not as painful, unless you swim too hard.”
Narburgh will be playing Bocce, a game that she has been playing for quite some time.
“I used to play it when I had family picnics in New York,” she said.
Bocce players are given balls that they must throw at a white, target ball.
“I like it because it’s not that hard; you just throw the ball, and I enjoy the competition, having fun,” Narburgh said.
Narburgh, who has been playing for the Special Olympics since she was in high school.
She has previously played softball, bowling, floor hockey and — her favorite — soccer.
This year is the first time Narburgh has competed in the national games.
“It’s going to be a lot different than state games,” she said. “I’m so used to state games — that’s always the same — and this is different.”
Narburgh has been to Seattle before, but this will be Martin’s first visit.
“You get to see a new place and meet new people, and have fun, as well as compete for the gold and a good time to make it to World Games,” Martin said.
To move on to the USA or World Games, athletes must compete at the local, regional state level, and receive a gold medal at the state games, according to Special Olympics Virginia’s Senior Director of Public Relations Holly Claytor.
After Special Olympics Virginia learns how many athletes it can bring for each sport, it randomly selects participants who qualify.
Special Olympics Virginia also covers travel and transportation costs and provides outfits for team members, according to Claytor.
The Opening Ceremony will take place on July 1, when Team Virginia will march in the Parade of Athletes at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium.
ABC will broadcast the ceremony live starting at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
The weeklong event will air programs, mostly on ESPN2. The programs will be available on the ESPN app, as well.
To stay up-to-date on Team Virginia’s progress, visit its website and Facebook page.
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