2022 Summer Games Recap

By: Madison Bishop

Special Olympics Maryland athletes change lives, you just have to open yourself up to the experience.

I’ve been around sports all of my life, and I have never fully understood how some athletes had the ability to push past certain barriers to finish first. I believed in training, I believed in the routine, but I didn’t believe in myself. This kept me from reaching what I believe now is my full potential in my sport, swimming. 

The 4,340 athletes of Special Olympics Maryland aren’t given this opportunity to compete without limitations. These athletes are constantly finding new ways to stay in the game because they WANT the opportunity to play the sports they love. 

Throughout the Summer Games weekend – we watched athletes compete in Cheerleading, Softball, Swimming, Bocce, and Athletics. In each competition, athletes gave their all in their routines, races, and games. I found my cheeks hurting from smiling at the energy coming from these athletes. The appreciation of being in a collegiate venue and OWNING the floor, track, pool, or field was evident. 

I swam at Towson University for 4 years, and I could argue that I never appreciated our facilities the way these athletes do. For these athletes, it goes further than the field and further than the competitions Special Olympics Maryland was hosting. 

Before Opening Ceremonies began, there was a block party for athletes to have some fun and leave the competition mindset behind for a few hours. After walking around and taking in all of the energy from the packed SECU parking lot, I noticed something behind the Kona Ice Truck… There was a pick-up game of tag football happening, there were at least 20-25 athletes playing and waiting for their turn to jump in for a play. 

Many flag football athletes typically have their football and gloves on hand, in hopes of an opportunity for a quick game.

These athletes were from all over the state of Maryland and most of them may have just met for the first time – however, because of a ball and the opportunity for a game, these athletes were playing as if it was the Superbowl. 

It’s not about the field, it’s not about the equipment, it’s about being given the opportunity to play. 

During my time in athletics, I had my fair share of injuries, but these injuries would allow me to mentally take myself out of the race before it began. As we were preparing to conclude the final day of the Summer Games, we saw Track and Field athlete, Dominick Marshall sitting on the bleachers with his knee propped up in a wrap. We asked what happened, and he explained he thought he had pulled a muscle during his most recent race, as we were leaving to capture more footage, he screams “YOU BETTER BELIEVE I’M GONNA GIVE IT MY ALL IN THIS RELAY.” Dom had one more race of the day, and his pulled muscle was the furthest thing on his mind, the only thing he had his mind set on, was a victory for his Baltimore City Team. 

I found myself tearing up as I watched Dom cross the finish line and secure a victory in the 4×100 relay. Dom was hugging everyone and so excited that he did it because he didn’t let an injury take him out of his goal: to win. 

There are 4,340 athletes like Dom that make up Special Olympics Maryland. Each one of them teaches you something about life, sports, or inclusion. Through their actions and ability, you see that an opportunity can make all the difference.