By Christian Barel
Nihan Uslu finds balance in her life by practicing yoga. Four years of the tranquil activity has activated an interaction between her inner-self and body. Yoga is a big factor to centering her mind, especially while competing in Special Olympics.
“Yoga always keeps me calm,” Nihan said.
As an athlete, Nihan has diversified her skills while playing both basketball and softball for the organization. Her seven years of experience not only made her a better athlete, but it also shaped her abilities to work outside of the court and field. She’s grown to be a social butterfly, building and forming more connections.
“Special Olympics changed her life,” said her mother, Ana Uslu. “It gave her purpose of belonging and she socializes more with friends.”
Nihan was attuned to the thrill of competition even before joining the organization, so competing is nothing new to her. Prior to Special Olympics, she participated in baton twirling. Thus, competitions are some of her favorite memories as an athlete.
To this day, she still remembers the moment that she won gold with her all-girls basketball team three years ago in Long Beach.
The memory, so well ingrained in her mind, is one of her favorite moments of being a part of Special Olympics. She hopes to make more memories like it at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
Nihan was one of the 3,500 athletes – including 70 from Southern California – chosen to join the competition in Seattle. She looks forward to being a part of the experience along with her basketball team.
“I was very surprised,” Nihan’s mother said. “I am very happy for her and I am proud of the team.”
Nihan has a lot of preparation and training to do before the games in July. Her mother remains confident, expressing that Nihan’s persistence makes her strong and ready.
“Nihan not only makes me proud,” Ana said. “She also makes her Special Olympics team proud.”