Special olympic competitors prepare for National Games

By KBJR News 1

February 1, 2014 Updated Feb 1, 2014 at 10:03 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- More then 100 athletes from around the Northland demonstrated their swimming, lifting and basketball skills at the 26th annual Special Olympics on Saturday in Duluth.

"Our athletes really do get into the sport. If you are looking at going head to head, toe to toe in any event, these athletes do it," said Roberta Wachlin, a coach for the Duluth All Stars.

Coaches say the most important thing to remember when working with people who have disabilities is to play to their strengths.

"Some of the challenges that you have when you work the athletes who have disabilities is understanding that each and every one has a different skill set and ability. They all have strengths, so we focus there and then try to build the weaknesses up," said Coach, Nathalie Nordvall.

A strength two team members of the Duluth All Stars have is the ability to run. They will take that skill all the way to the National Special Olympic Games in New Jersey in June.

"I'll be doing track, so I'll be doing the 5k, 10k, and a relay," said Dave Lane, a member of the Duluth All Stars.
His other teammate, Connor Nordvall will also go the games to compete in the mile run.

This year will be the first time the boys will show off their skills at the national level.

"I'm looking forward to being more competitive and getting to see other athletes," said Lane.

Coaches say the two boys have come a long way since joining the All Star team a few years ago.

"Both gentlemen came in having a really good background of having a good sports philosophy," said Wachlin. She says they have their individual strengths at track and field, but like working with a team.

"I Love the game. I've watched the NBA growing up and my siblings played... I wanted to follow them I guess," said Connor Nordvall.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.