Updated July 29, 2018
LONG BEACH, Calif. (June 20, 2018) – Six athletes from Special Olympics Southern California have been chosen to participate in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in March of 2019. Representing Southern California at the World Games will be Megan Bingham (La Crescenta, Calif.), Faith Demos (Torrance, Calif.), Tyrone Garrett (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Mark Hanson (Calabasas, Calif.), Krystal Johnson (Fontana, Calif.) and Jonathan Pierce (Torrance, Calif.).
The Games will be held from Mar. 14-21 and will be the world’s largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019. Los Angeles hosted the last World Summer Games in 2015.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our five athletes selected to represent SOSC and their country at the 2019 World Summer Games. This experience will be one of the biggest highlights of each athlete’s life,” said Bill Shumard, CEO and President of SOSC. “It is the first time the World Games will be played in that part of the world. As we celebrate Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary, they will be part of an amazing milestone in this movement’s history. ”
It will be quite a year for Johnson. She will be one of 66 members of Team SOSC that will participate in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games from July 1-6 in Seattle. She will participate in track and field during USA Games. The multi-talented athlete qualified for the 2019 World Games in tennis. She has competed in more than 150 events since 2009, in 10 different sports. At the most recent Summer Games, she won gold in the 200-meter run and in the shot put. Playing tennis for the first time, she won gold in Division 2 singles during the 2017 Fall Games.
Hanson has been swimming since 2012 and recently competed at the 2018 Summer Games at Cal State Long Beach. He took gold in the 100 freestyle and in the 25-meter freestyle relay. He claimed silver in the 25 breaststroke and fourth in the 50 freestyle. This was his fifth Summer Games. He won gold in the 100 free in 2017 as well.
On the track will be Garrett and Bingham. Garrett has competed in more than 116 events with Special Olympics in the sports of bowling, track and field, and floor hockey. He will compete in track and field at the 2019 World Games. He recently competed at the Summer Games, earning bronze in the 200 run and silver in the 400 run. He was a member of the Pomona Valley 100 relay team that won gold. He has competed in eight Summer Games, winning 18 gold medals in the process.
As for Bingham, she started competing in 2015 and has already competed in four Summer Games in track and field. At the 2018 Summer Games on June 9-10, she won silver in the softball throw and 200-meter run. At the 2017 Summer Games, she won gold in the 200. She also won gold in the softball throw at the 2015 Summer Games.
Long time athlete Demos, 43, will represent Southern California on the golf course. She competed at the 2017 Summer Games and took the bronze in individual stroke play on the nine-hole course. In the 2017 golf season, she won the Lakewood Golf Competition and at the Orange County Regional Games. She took silver at the Inland Empire Spring Games. Golf, which is now played during the fall sports season for SOSC, will be a part of the 2018 Fall Games on November 10-11.
Pierce became the sixth member of the delegation, added to Team SOSC in July. Pierce won four medals at the 2018 USA Games, including gold in the 200-meter freestyle. He was a member of the 2017 U.S Para-Swimming Emerging Team. Since swimming his first meet in summer of 2016, Pierce has set 25 American records — two earlier this month in the 100-meter individual medley and 100-meter freestyle at USA Games, according to coach Leslie Runnels-Stover — in class S14, designated for individuals with intellectual disabilities. In October 2016, Pierce competed in the California Classic U.S. Paralympics swim meet at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, where he broke seven American records out of nine events in just that weekend. Read more on Pierce HERE.
The Games will feature seven days of competition in 24 sports. There will be court sports: badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, bocce, handball, table tennis, tennis and volleyball. There will be races in athletics, cycling, kayaking, open water swimming, roller skating, sailing, swimming and triathlon. Judged competitions will be equestrian, judo, artistic gymnastics and rhythmic gymnastics. Rounding out the list of sports are bowling, football, golf and powerlifting.
Many thousands of people will take part or watch the Games. An estimated 7,000 Special Olympics athletes and their 2,600 coaches will arrive early to get used to the time zone and temperature. More than 20,000 volunteers and up to 500,000 spectators will attend the Games. The families of the athletes will number 6,000. And there’s an expectation that 2,000 reporters, photographers, videographers and bloggers will capture the Games for international media. Honored guests of Special Olympics could number 4,000, too.
Schedule for 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games
Host Town: March 8-11
Divisioning and Preliminary Competitions: March 12-13
Opening Ceremony: March 14
Competition and Other Events: March 14-21
Closing Ceremony: March 21
ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Special Olympics Southern California enriches the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities through sports, health, and leadership programs. Special Olympics helps athletes become more independent, build self-esteem, and live healthier lives. They inspire people to open their hearts and create more accepting and inclusive communities. All Special Olympics programs are free to the athletes and their families. Learn more at http://www.sosc.org.