PICKENS COUNTY — Tyler Poole, Marcus Crowder and Ansley Hayes made Pickens County proud by bringing home several medals a piece at the Special Olympics National Games held in Seattle, Wash., July 1-6.
Poole competed in bocce where he earned two fourth place medals and a fifth — nationally. Crowder also earned a fourth place in bocce.
In bowling, Hayes earned second, fourth and sixth place medals.
“I worked really hard to go there, I practiced all the time,” said Poole. “We play all year but this was really important.”
While in Seattle, the group saw a Mariners game at had “the best hamburgers in the world” at Eureka, a local restaurant.
“Someone there paid for our whole dinner and we didn’t even know who they were,” said Hayes. “The people were really nice.”
Hayes, who used to play bocce as well, started bowling at a youth league in Anderson and boasts a high score of 140.
The three athletes were part of the South Carolina delegation to the 2018 games.
“We had to beat a lot of other teams to get to go,” said Poole. “Oconee’s afraid of us.”
In addition to the ballgame and burgers, the athletes were also given shoes, glasses, hearing and eye tests by a team of volunteer doctors and nurses.
The USA Games take place every four years with previous host cities being Ames, Iowa in 2006; Lincoln, Neb. in 2010; and Lawrenceville, N.J. in 2014.
Venues included the University of Washington, King County Aquatic Center, Seattle University and Celebration Park. In fact, the Special Olympics USA Games was the biggest sporting event to hit the Seattle area in more than 25 years.
In addition to showcasing the awe-inspiring abilities of thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities, the 2018 USA Games in Seattle modeled the ideals of inclusion and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics movement in style.
The 2018 USA Games also served as a catalyst for the City of Inclusion initiative and showcased the work Seattle area businesses and organizations have been doing by creating a community where people with intellectual disabilities are meaningfully and fully welcome and valued.
More than 4,000 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the District of Columbia descended upon Seattle and the surrounding region.
Fourteen sports were offered including swimming, flag football and soccer and 10,000 volunteers were recruited to support the games. A whopping 10,000 family members and friends — along with 70,000 spectators — attended.
In all, 163 athletes and coaches from S.C. made the trip to the west coast for the event — and talks are already underway for the next games.
“Oh, I’m going,” said Poole. “And I’m taking my bowling ball with me.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.