Go­ing for gold

Spe­cial Olympics ath­letes com­pete in Sum­mer Games

Newark Post - - Front Page - By KARIE SIM­MONS ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

As Mor­gan Jungling leaned against the fence at the Univer­sity of Delaware’s Han­nah Sta­dium, watch­ing the MOT Tigers pitch against the Kent Wild Kats, the gold medal hang­ing from her neck glis­tened in the sun­light.

But the 21-year-old Ne­wark na­tive wasn’t both­ered by the at­ten­tion from the shine. In fact, she wel­comed it.

“I want every­one to know,” she said, smil­ing.

Jungling re­cently com­peted in the Spe­cial Olympics World Win­ter Games in Aus­tria, where she won gold in the gi­ant slalom. Al­though it’s been months, she proudly dis­played the tro­phy around her neck last Fri­day,

show­ing every­one gath­ered for the sum­mer games that she’s a dec­o­rated ath­lete.

More than 690 ath­letes with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties and nearly 100 uni­fied part­ners (peers with­out dis­abil­i­ties) from across the state com­peted in aquat­ics, bocce, powerlifting, soft­ball, ten­nis and track and field over the week­end at the 47th-an­nual Spe­cial Olympics Delaware Sum­mer Games, which was held at UD’s ath­letic com­plex.

More than 160 coaches pro­vided train­ing over the past three months in prepa­ra­tion for the com­pe­ti­tion, and over 1,000 vol­un­teers from the com­mu­nity and cor­po­rate/venue spon­sors helped make the event pos­si­ble.

Jungling was check­ing out the com­pe­ti­tion as she waited to play soft­ball with the Ne­wark Dragons against the Wilm­ing­ton Wizards. She said she has been a Spe­cial Olympics ath­lete for the past 16 years, and has par­tic­i­pated in the sum­mer games for about a decade.

Out of all the sum­mer sports, she said she en­joys play­ing soft­ball the most be­cause she can throw pretty hard.

“Ear­lier today when we played the MOT Tigers, I got some­one out and that made me feel good be­cause we were los­ing so we got that one out,” Jungling said.

Over at the ten­nis courts, Carl Wil­liams, 48, of Ne­wark, was neck-and-neck is his match against Phil Saxon, 63, of Wilm­ing­ton. He ended up los­ing 7 to 5 in over­time, but was still in good spir­its.

“It’s al­right. I played him ear­lier today,” he said. “I played better then.”

Wil­liams has been play­ing with the Ne­wark Dragons for more than 15 years and says he re­ally loves the olympic games.

“It’s good ex­cite­ment and com­pe­ti­tion,” he said. “It’s fun.”

Saxon called their match a “close one,” but that’s what he likes about ten­nis.

“It’s a fun game. It’s my fa­vorite sport,” Saxon said. “It helps that I’m pretty good at it and I like play­ing ten­nis with other peo­ple.”

He has been par­tic­i­pat­ing for more than 20 years and said he keeps com­ing back for the friend­ships and the sports.

“It’s re­ally good com­pe­ti­tion,” Saxon said. “The players have re­ally got­ten better and better and there’s some re­ally good ten­nis matches today.”

Eric John­son, 34, of Hart­ley, was feel­ing a bit com­pet­i­tive him­self, flex­ing his mus­cles to­ward the other swim­mers be­fore rac­ing to- ward the end of the pool. He said he has been com­ing to the games for 20 years and likes swim­ming the most.

“It’s nice and cool,” he said, de­scrib­ing the wa­ter.

After John­son climbed out of the pool, his father Marvin John­son greeted him with a dry towel and a hug.

As a par­ent, he said he en­joys the va­ri­ety of sports at the sum­mer games and the op­por­tu­nity to be out­side to watch his son swim. Nor­mally, he said, the sum­mer games have beau­ti­ful weather, but one year it rained and aquat­ics was moved in­doors.

“It’s so much better out­side,” he said. “It’s such a nice day. This is the per­fect spot for it.”

He said watch­ing his son com­pete makes him proud, and Eric feels the same about be­ing a Spe­cial Olym- pics ath­lete.

“Win or lose, he might not be happy with what­ever medal he gets, but he’ll wear it to work on Mon­day,” said Marvin John­son.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIM­MONS

Eric John­son, 34, of Hart­ley, flexes his mus­cles be­fore swim­ming across the pool dur­ing a com­pe­ti­tion at the Spe­cial Olympics Delaware Sum­mer Games over the week­end.

NE­WARK POST PHO­TOS BY KARIE SIM­MONS

Carl Wil­liams, 48, of Ne­wark, hits the ball over the net to Phil Saxon, 63, of Wilm­ing­ton, dur­ing a match at the Spe­cial Olympics Delaware Sum­mer Games over the week­end.

Tom Wells, 40, of Hockessin, gets ready to hit the ball dur­ing a ten­nis match at the Spe­cial Olympics Delaware Sum­mer Games.

Mor­gan Jungling, 21, of Ne­wark, leans against the fence at Univer­sity of Delaware’s soft­ball sta­dium as the MOT Tigers played the Kent Wild Kats. Jungling com­peted along with hun­dreds of ath­letes at the Spe­cial Olympics Delaware Sum­mer Games over the week­end.

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