FORT JACKSON — A local middle school student enjoyed success at the 2016 South Carolina Special Olympics winning a Gold Medal and two Bronze.
The 2016 State Summer Games got under way at 6 p.m. this past Friday when a torch bearer, joined by several law enforcement officers from all over the state, began running a 7-mile course from the South Carolina State House in Columbia. Their destination was Fort Jackson where the opening ceremonies of the South Carolina Special Olympics would be held. The ceremony featured a parade of the athletes and cauldron lighting, followed by musical entertainment at the Solomon Center.
On Saturday, competitions for Aquatics, Badminton, Masters Bocce, Bowling, Gymnastics, Powerlifting and Softball were held at Fort Jackson facilities and Blythewood High School.
Award ceremonies were held throughout the day at each venue after competition was completed.
A total of 1,300 athletes, 200 coaches, and more than 800 volunteers took part in the Special Olympics along with many more families and friends who came together to celebrate.
Among those taking part in the event was local Sims Middle School student Chandler Austin who was among the many athletes from across the state who qualified and participated in the Summer Games. Since October, Chandler has practiced every Saturday with his fellow Area 12 teammates at Converse College and took part in several Regional Swim Meets that took place in preparation for the State Games. Chandler is proud to have represented Union County and Area 12. This is something he looks forward to and hopes that many more of his fellow friends and students will join in and participate this fall for competitions which will begin at the beginning of 2017.
Chandler was excited to place in every race he competed in, bringing home a Gold Medal and two Bronze Medals. Earning Gold in a very close and competitive 25 meter freestyle race, Chandler fought hard, winning by just a hand’s length. In another close race, Chandler earned Bronze in the 25 meter backstroke. Along with his teammates from Area 12, the foursome participated in the 100 meter relay, winning another Bronze.
This story was submitted by Amy Austin.