General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Triathlon and Special Olympics athletes Rss Feed  
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2013-06-17 8:32 AM

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Subject: Triathlon and Special Olympics athletes
I am fortunate enough to work for Special Olympics New Jersey, and over the last couple of years have had the opportunity to develop the sport of triathlon for the athletes that i work with. Special Olympics offers sports training and competition, free of charge, to athletes with intellectual disabilities, and has over 4 million athletes registered throughout the world. Being a triathlete myself, and having coached Special Olympics athletes in numerous sports, i recognized the potential for these athletes to compete in a sport that had never been offered to them before. Utilizing my contacts in the local triathlon community, we began by creating an indoor triathlon program as an introduction to the sport. In the spring of 2012 we teamed up with a local gym and its members, ran training sessions and ended with a race day.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonewjersey/sets/72157630045545506/
The whole concept worked well, and we have continued to offer the indoor triathlon option and ran another race last month.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonewjersey/sets/72157633565713522/
Following the first race, we identified a couple of athletes who were willing to train and participate in an outdoor sprint tri, and in September of 2012, two Special Olympics New Jersey athletes competed and finished a Sprint Tri in Asbury Park, NJ. Triathlon is continuing to grow and develop in New Jersey, mainly due to the effort of the triathlon community, as they are providing the training opportunities, coaching, volunteers, to make the program work. My ultimate vision is for the program to develop throughout the USA, and hopefully throughout the world, expanding the opportunities for all Special Olympics athletes, and ultimately, getting the sport of Triathlon recognized as an official Special Olympics sport. We have made the first couple of steps by introducing the sport in New Jersey over the last couple of years, and by also getting Triathlon introduced as a demonstration sport at the 2014 USA Special Olympics National Games which just happen to take place in New Jersey from June 14-21, 2014. www.2014specialolympics.org. The Special Olympics World Games will be held in Los Angeles in 2015 and so there may be an opportunity to have triathlon there as well.
I am presenting my triathlon program at the Special Olympics National conference this summer, and will be trying to promote the sport to all the other states who attend. I plan to give them a "blueprint" of how to begin an indoor triathlon program, and hopefully this will lead to more state programs offering the sport to their athletes, and the continued growth of the sport throughout the US. Not every US state program will have a triathlete on staff who knows the sport and what needs to be done and this is where i am asking for help from the Beginner Triathlete community who live on this site. I would love to go to the Conference, with as much information and aid as possible to help the states who are interested in beginning programs. If i could provide each state state a list of names and emails of individuals, tri clubs etc, who may be interested in getting involved with a Special Olympics Triathlon program, that would be a huge step in getting the programs up and running. There would be no initial commitment other than an interest at this point. If after reading this you have an interest, please email me at mw@sonj.org and i can begin compiling a contact list to take to the conference.

Finally, i entered a video of the triathlon program into the Kona Inspired competition run by Ironman. I made it to the final round of voting with a spot in Ironman Hawaii available to the winner. if you would like to support my bid, help me represent over 4 million Special Olympics athletes worldwide, and hopefully open peoples eyes to the abilities of these athletes, go to www.KonaInspired.com and view the videos. if you feel that my video deserves your vote then please vote and share this link http://bit.ly/13Tqm6Rwith your contacts.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully we will see triathlon continue to grow for this new group of athletes.

Matt WIlley


2013-06-17 11:20 AM
in reply to: mattwilley

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Subject: RE: Triathlon and Special Olympics athletes
Matt this is a great idea. I have been working with Special Olympics Georgia for little over a year now. These athletes are incredible. They always have a great spirit and they really excel at these sports. I would love to be involved in something like this. I am going to forward the information to our local Special Olympics Group.

Good Luck in getting this program up and running!
2013-06-17 5:22 PM
in reply to: acarlton9250

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Subject: RE: Triathlon and Special Olympics athletes
thanks. please pass it on along with my email: mw@sonj.org and I will be happy to talk with them and help in any way I can. This project has a lot of potential - just need to find those people who are going to be champions for the sport and the athletes.
2013-06-17 8:54 PM
in reply to: mattwilley

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Subject: RE: Triathlon and Special Olympics athletes
FYI Triathlon australia just advertised a job to manage and develop a team for the next paralympics.  Triathlon is in!  yay!
2013-06-17 9:00 PM
in reply to: jobaxas

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Subject: RE: Triathlon and Special Olympics athletes
Very cool!  That is something worth taking time for on every level.
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