Special Olympics athletes run like the wind

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Special Olympics athletes participated in their regional track meet Saturday at the Wichita Collegiate School for a chance to win medals.

About 450 athletes were registered for the event according to Mitch Guthrie, Special Olympics Kansas director of development. They ran in different events like the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter races, including long jumps and the softball throw. One coach was next to the track cheering the athletes on, all along the way.

"I like to watch and see them grow and develop in their abilities and skills," Mark Miller said.

He said he's coached the athletes for five years, right now for a team named the Wichita Saints. He said being around them is something he enjoys.

"They give me a lot of encouragement, as to uh, as to what to participate more fully in life because I see them, and we may see them as disadvantaged but they have a lot of advantages," he said.

According to Miller, he coaches them in every event except the javelin throw, and today he said they brought home some victories.

"I've seen a lot of medals," Miller said. "A few ribbons, mostly medals so we brought home a lot of gold today."

Mitch Guthrie said that the competition is a big part of the events, but it's not the entirety of them.

"The athletes have a blast, they're having a great time competing," he said. "For most of them you know winning and losing isn't the most important thing but they're here having fun."

One athlete said he enjoys being around his friends on his team.

"Being with my teammates and having a good time while I'm at it," said Conner Jackson, a Special Olympics athlete for three years.

According to him, they take some life lessons out of it to from coaches like Mark Miller.

"Sportsmanship and caring for others," he said.

The next event is scheduled for May 31 - June 2 as a part of their summer games.