Special Olympics athletes off to state games

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— Steamboat's Joe Arnold is hoping 20 years of experience in the Special Olympics will help add a few medals to his collection.

Arnold, 33, is one of three local athletes competing at the 2001 Special Olympics at Colorado State University this weekend.

Myles Barber and Jesse Rudnick are also at the state games, which run today and Sunday, starting at 8 a.m. on both days.

Arnold, Rudnick and Barber are part of the Horizons program, which is an organization in Steamboat Springs that supports the developmentally disabled.

Two other local athletes were supposed to make the trip, but they gave late notice that they will not be able to attend, said Palmer Kavanaugh, Horizons counselor.

Sue White and Tim McClenathan will miss the event, Kavanaugh said.

Arnold, who has been competing in the Special Olympics since junior high, will do the softball throw, the 800-meter run and the long jump.

At the Special Olympics spring qualifying meet May 12 in Craig, Arnold dashed to a first-place finish in the 800-meter run in 2 minutes and 56.96 seconds.

He says the best part of the state games is the chance to befriend other athletes.

"I like meeting people and having a good time," Arnold said. "It's a blast."

Arnold said he was disappointed that McClenathan could not attend the state competition because McClenathan is on the local relay team.

With him being absent, there are not enough members to do the relay, Arnold said.

Barber is expected to compete in the 400 and 800-meter runs and the shot put, while Rudnick will do the 100-meter dash and softball throw.

All three athletes are veterans of the Special Olympics and are eager to compete for more medals this weekend, said Ginny Cannon, Horizons adult community coordinator. About 1,300 athletes will be at the Special Olympics, she said.

"They look forward to it," Cannon said. "They work hard to attain it. It's a fun and competitive event and they get to meet a lot of people."

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