Blacksburg, Virginia – Special Olympics Virginia will send seven athletes and one coach to the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates, for a week of sport from March 14 to 21.
Team Virginia joins Special Olympics USA, which is comprised of 215 athletes, 65 coaches and approximately 34 delegation members who support team operations.
Team members will compete in 18 of the 24 sports offered: athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling, cycling, equestrian, football (soccer), golf, gymnastics – artistic, gymnastics – rhythmic, open water swimming, powerlifting, sailing, swimming, table tennis, tennis, triathlon, and volleyball.
Josh Norris from Blacksburg will run the half marathon and the 10,000 meter race.
At 28, Norris has been involved in Special Olympics since middle school. He quickly found a love for – and was a natural at – distance running according to his mom, BJ Norris. He ran high school indoor and outdoor track and cross country, lettering in all three. He’s completed eight marathons and numerous half-marathons, consistently finishing in the top 1-5 percent of runners.
“I feel like I’ve been training for this my whole life. Going to World Games is a once in a life-time opportunity,” he said. “It’s still hard to believe that I’m going!”
AbuDhabi is an exotic locale, but, as a Special Olympics athlete, Norris is both an experienced runner and an experienced traveler.
“In 2015, he was selected to travel to California to run the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Summer World Games. In 13 days, he ran through nearly 50 towns and cities throughout the state of California,” BJ Norris said. “He has run marathons as far away as Houston and plans to run the Louisville marathon when he returns from World Games.”
An active family, Josh traveled to South Korea in 2013 to support his twin brother, Ben, as he competed in Alpine Skiing for the 2013 Special Olympics Winter Games.
Most recently, Josh competed in Special Olympics USA Games, achieving a personal record in all three of his events – 3K, 5K and 10K.
Josh wears Brooks shoes to train (Ghost and Glycerin), but he will run each event in a different type of shoe. For the Marathon he’ll wear Nike StreakLT; the 10K, Saucony Kilkenny XC7; and the 4X400, Nike Victory Elite, his mom said.
“He is thinking about everything about Dubai and AbuDhabi, but mostly the half-marathon course, which he probably won’t get to see until the morning of the race,” she said.
The UAE government launched a national policy for empowering people with special needs according to a fact sheet provided by Special Olympics Virginia “to create an inclusive society for them and their families, through services and facilities that accommodate their needs.”
As part of the policy, the new term ‘people of determination’ was introduced and an official at every government institution is now responsible for facilitating services
for people with special needs.
Norris will travel with a delegation including a tennis coach, five Special Olympics Virginia staff members, a medical team; a sports manager for gymnastics; a technical delegate for volleyball; and a Unified Sports delegate; and a representative of Global Messengers.
To learn more about the delegation, please visit www.specialolympicsusa.org for a full team listing, photos and bios.
As the official broadcast partner of Special Olympics, ESPN’s television coverage will be carried across its networks in the U.S. as well as streamed through WatchESPN and the ESPN App.
To follow Team Virginia, visit www.specialolympicsva.org, and follow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/specialolympicsva Twitter: @solympicsva, and Instagram: @specialolympicsva. Hash Tag: #Cheer4USA
Media interested Josh should contact Holly Claytor at email@example.com or 804-726.3025.
For more information visit abuDhabi2019.org