By Julie Devine
A new turn has approached as the 2019 Special Olympics World Games are imminent, and athletes are training harder than ever to prepare for an incredible seven days in Abu Dhabi. These elite competitors are intensifying their training, pushing harder, all to prepare for a trip worth remembering.
For Special Olympics Southern California’s Krystal Johnson, it’s even beyond what she did leading up to last summer’s Special Olympics USA Games, according to her mother.
“Abu Dhabi training is much more intense. She works out three days a week, for two to three hours after work. If she’s not in the tennis court, she running in the backyard. She’s willing to do her best, she has to train very hard because she wants to set herself up for success to compete with the best Special Olympics athletes in the world,” Delia Johnson said.
Krystal will join more than 7,000 incredible competitors from 170 countries from March 14-21. An opportunity like no other, Krystal looks to shine in tennis.
For over 18 years, Krystal has been competing as a Special Olympics athlete, showcasing her talent in various sports. In her experience with Special Olympics, she has thrived by hard work and her love for tennis as well as bowling, floor hockey, golf, gymnastics, and track and field.
From competing in track and field at USA Games, to now being recognized for her skills in tennis, Krystal has proven herself.
“It’s really exciting to do two different sports at the same time. It is an honor for me to go to Abu Dhabi,” she said.
Even before Krystal was chosen for the 2019 World Games, she wanted to be a part of it. In 2015, Los Angeles hosted the Special Olympics World Games, and although Krystal did not compete, she served others with her heart of gold.
“She was a volunteer as a bus greeter. She greeted athletes from all over the world, she was able to talk to others, shake hands, and trade pens,” Delia said.
Now, with the opportunity to compete, Krystal is over the moon.
“She was jumping for joy when she found out she was going to the World Games because she knew the importance of it,” Delia said.
Since joining SOSC, Krystal’s personality has blossomed.
Watching her daughter’s confidence double, Delia has seen the rich involvement Krystal has had with her fellow athletes through the years. Krystal is ecstatic to indulge in conversations, and the courageous boost has opened doors for speaking engagements in front of crowds as a Global Messenger.
The 30-year-old from Fontana is thrilled to travel to a new and exciting country, and not only to play matches.
“Competing in another country is so exciting. I can see a new culture, and new people from other countries,” Krystal said.
Added Delia: “This is her third time being outside the country. She loves eating different foods, seeing new buildings, and has learned to appreciate things that are different.”
With now less than one month to go, Krystal is ready to take on the 2019 World Games with a brave face, and a dedication like no other.
“Krystal has perseverance that cannot be taught,” Delia said. “Any time I’ve seen her in competition, she always raises her level of persistence. It truly amazes me for how hard she works, performs, and how happy she is to represent the United States of America for tennis.”