Special Olympic athletes to compete | News, Sports, Jobs
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Special Olympic athletes to compete | News, Sports, Jobs

Jill Schramm/MDN
Christy Coughlin displays on Wednesday a number of competition prizes she’s received through Special Olympics. She will compete in the USA Games next week.

An experienced world and national Special Olympics athlete, Christy Coughlin of Minot is finding the thrill of participation never grows old as she prepares for next week’s games in Orlando, Florida.

Coughlin, a track and field athlete, and Justin Hinds of Bowbells, a powerlifter, are among 18 North Dakota athletes who will be participating in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games June 5-11.

“I’m so excited, and I know we will do good. I know I will represent Minot and North Dakota really well. I will just do my best. It’s not about winning. It’s about having fun, doing your best,” Coughlin said.

Special Olympics North Dakota (SOND) will send a 30-member delegation to Florida for next week’s games. Team North Dakota includes six coaches and three staff.

North Dakota athletes will compete in four of the 19 Olympic-type sports offered, including: basketball, bowling, powerlifting and track and field. They will be living and training as a team at the North Dakota State University campus today and Friday before leaving for Florida.

“It is an honor and privilege to bring a delegation from North Dakota down to one of the most fun places to visit. Our athletes will no doubt work very hard and showcase their talents in their competitions. We will also be able to have a little time for them to enjoy a Disney Park while they are there,” said Nancy Hanson, SOND president/CEO, in a release regarding the games.

The Special Olympics USA Games, which is hosted every four years, will unite more than 5,500 athletes and coaches from 50 states and the Caribbean. Over 10,000 volunteers will fill more than 20,000 shifts during the week. It is anticipated over 125,000 families, friends, and spectators will attend.

The 2022 national summer games will be broadcast on ABC and followed by ESPN. The games also can be followed online at 2022specialolympicsusagames.org. The opening ceremony with the Parade of Athletes begins Sunday at noon.

Special Olympics also offers a mobile app that allows users to track the progress of athletes and their events throughout the games.

Coughlin will be competing in the 200 meters, running long jump and North Dakota relay.

The COVID-19 pandemic had curtailed competitions for about two years. Coughlin stayed in shape during the pandemic with the help of a friend who is her personal trainer.

“Then my coach, Wes (Frisco), is just amazing. I’m so thankful for him. He knows what I need to work on,” she added.

Coughlin became involved with Special Olympics as a 15-year-old in 1994.

“It’s my passion because I enjoying meeting people and being around my friends,” she said. “Special Olympics is my family.”

She also has been involved with Prairie Grit in Minot, participating in sled hockey, wheelchair basketball, water sports and, most recently, golf.

When not engaged in sports, she works at Kalix in Minot and has a pet-sitting business.

This will be Coughlin’s third trip to the national games. She competed in USA National events in 2010 in Nebraska, where she was the first female to run the 10K with five male athletes, and in 2018 in Seattle, where she competed in track.

She participated in her first World Games in North Carolina in 1999 in volleyball. She competed again in 2001 in Alaska in downhill skiing and in 2003 in Ireland in track. In 2017, she earned gold and silvers in snowshoeing at the World Games in Austria.

Coughlin was inducted into North Dakota’s Special Olympics Hall of Fame in 2016 and was the first athlete to be named to the state’s Special Olympics Board of Directors, serving for eight years.

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