SEATTLE, Wa.- For 50 years, Special Olympics has empowered athletes with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to play the sports they love and for the fourth time, the USA Games spotlight some of the very best Special Olympic athletes, including three from around St. Joseph area.
"Team Missouri has been training for this for a really, really long time, so it's been building up and they've been getting excited for this for over a year," Special Olympics Missouri Program Director said.
For 50 years, Special Olympics has empowered athletes with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to play the sports they love and for the fourth time, the USA Games spotlight some of the very best Special Olympic athletes, including three from around St. Joseph area.
More than 3,000 athletes will compete in Seattle, Washington.
Team Missouri will feature 58 athletes, including Charlie Phillips in powerlifting, Simon Caldwell in tennis, and Matt Davidosn, who will have his father, Paul (unified partner), with Matt on the bocce court.
"It's very rewarding," Unified partner Paul Davidson said. "It's a select few that get to come out. You don't just get chosen, you have to earn it. You have to put in a lot of practice time, training time."
Matt Davidson heads to the games for the first time.
"I'm very excited," Davidson said. "I'm ready to go. I'm pumped up. I've been practicing and ready to compete."
Caldwell returns to the USA Games for the third time after going in 2010 and 2014. He will compete in doubles and singles tennis.
"A coach in St. Joseph took an interest in him and worked with him," Simon's father Bob Caldwell said. "He has some instincts and just to see him get out there and work hard, it's good to see him out there competing with guys and girls from all over the country now."
And for Phillips, he takes a 405-pound deadlift pull to the games with bigger goals in his sight.
"My main goals are gold medals, PR's and to get picked for the USA World Games," Phillips said.
The Special Olympic USA Games run July 2-6.
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