RECAP: 2018 Fall Games, Day 1

The opening day of the 2018 Special Olympics Southern California Fall Games featured competitive action in a revamped championship event lineup Saturday in Fountain Valley.

More than 1,100 athletes competed in traditional fall sports soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball, and golf made its Fall Games debut after the introduction of a new sports plan prior to the season. Golfers competed in first-round action at David L. Baker Golf Course, while the rest of the athletes took over nearby Fountain Valley Sports Park.

MORE COVERAGE: Quotes from Day 1 at Fall Games

Tennis was the lone sport to have medal competitions on Day 1, with athletes competing in singles action. Forty-five athletes battled it out on the court, with medals awarded in 14 separate divisions. Level 5 gold medalists included Joshua Manso, John Ngo, David Almberg, Coleman Maher and Heidi Sand.

Even after his triumph, Coleman displayed the sportsmanship so many athletes exude.

“Being a tennis athlete, I like to run and just go out there and compete,” he said. “Even if you don’t win (the gold) that’s alright because there will be many more tournaments to follow.”

Sunday’s action will pair athletes in doubles matches.

Soccer (five divisions), softball (five divisions) and volleyball (two divisions) featured round-robin competitions, with final standings to be decided tomorrow in each division.

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The heart of Special Olympics was just as important as the competition, and the fans, coaches and volunteers brought plenty of spirit.

Elizabeth Estrada, a Long Beach volleyball coach for the past five years, said Special Olympics “means everything” to her.

“It means family, friends, progression. Seeing [the athletes] progress over time is really heartwarming,” she added.

Competitions will wrap up Sunday, with action scheduled from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Medal ceremonies will begin shortly afterward.

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