Going for gold
Special Olympics athletes compete in Summer Games
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.
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.
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.