FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – For the first time ever, two athletes from Special Olympics Allen County competed in the national games. They brought home four medals.
“I thought it was awesome. I did my best and I have no regrets,” Matt Colley, one of the athletes, said.
Colley, 28, and Alise Hazelett, 27, were nominated to try for the Indiana team in March 2013. They had to attend the Area 3 competition, advance to the state summer games and earn a gold or silver medal in one of their events there. Matt and Alise joined eight other athletes from around the state to be on the state’s Track and Field team. Indiana sent a total of 47 athletes to the national games.
“Going into this knowing we are going to be competing against people who are really good, that was a little overwhelming from the start for them,” Donna Hazelett, the coordinator for the Allen County Special Olympics said.
They also had to attend three training camps, but it all paid off. At the National Games in New Jersey in June, Alise and Matt each won two medals and two ribbons. Ribbons are awarded to the fourth through eighth place finishers.
“I passed a bunch of people from Minnesota and New Jersey because I wanted to get this bronze, so I did and I’m third top in the country,” Alise said about the mile walk competition.
Matt won the gold medal in the 100M run, silver medal in shot put, a fifth place ribbon in the mini javelin lon and placed seventh in the 4×100 relay
“It was unbelievable. I thought I got second at least, but when I saw it was first on the board I was just freaking out inside,” Matt said.
The games, though, are about more than medals, as the Special Olympic Athlete Oath states: “Let me win. But, if I cannot win. Let me be brave in the attempt.”
“The fun they have meeting people and the socialization. Learning sports skills is on the low end of that,” Donna said.
Alise and Matt are both thinking about trying to make the 2018 National Games team. Alise is looking at going for golf and Matt wants to try for bowling.
“We just had a fun time. No matter what we got we were happy,” Matt said.