Special Olympics a special time
The Special Olympics State Summer Games are more than a family event for the Justs. Sisters Deyna and Robin competed in several track and field events.
The Special Olympics State Summer Games are more than a family event for the Justs.
Sisters Deyna and Robin competed in several track and field events. Their father Ron coached them, and a proud mother with a handful of assorted relatives cheered them on.
Their day ended in sweet success at Ellig Sports Complex on Saturday.
Deyna and Robin, along with teammates Sarah Scott and Jessica Zahn, raced to a first-place finish in their heat of the 400-meter relay, giving them each a gold medal to take back home to Dickinson, N.D.
The race, although nerve-racking, put smiles on the girls' faces even before their anchor, Zahn, 22, was across the finish line.
"I was hoping we'd get first," Deyna, 27, beamed.
The relay team also wore smiles on its jerseys in the form of smiley-face stickers, which were given to them for good luck from their area director, Barb.
Coach Ron also sported a smiley-face sticker on his
T-shirt, which fittingly said 'COACH' across his chest.
"My girls made me wear this," he said of the T-shirt.
He also doesn't miss an opportunity to praise his relay team.
"We can't miss a practice," Ron said. "They look forward to it. Their attitudes are fantastic. When you see them do that well, it's really gratifying."
Between the four relay girls, they took home 11 medals. Zahn placed third in shot put. Scott, 16, won a heat of the 100. Deyna won her 200 heat and placed second in long jump. Robin, 24, won the shot put and was second in the 100.
The Just sisters ended their day by cheering on their younger brother Scott, who ran the anchor leg of the coaches' relay.
The day was full of successes for other athletes, too.
Take John Moran of Fargo, for instance. He won his heat of the 100 and proudly showed his medal to everyone he knew.
Then he carefully added it to his pile of awards.
In addition to the 100, Moran collected two silver medals in the gymnastics event Friday and another silver medal in the shot put.
Around his neck, they made a nice 'clang-clang' sound to remind him of his accomplishments.
"I like getting medals," the 20-year-old Moran said. "I was thinking I'd take first place (in the 100) and everyone would cheer me on, saying 'Go John go!' I'd make my mom proud, and my teachers proud."
More importantly, though, he was happy with himself.
Most of the 500 to 600 athletes were ecstatic with their finishes. Even the ones without medals were pleased to run past the grandstands and hear the crowd cheering them on. Kids and adults posed together for group photos as shouts of "Good job!" and "Way to go!" resounded between coaches, family members and athletes.
Of course, no athletic event could go without a few tears as one athlete fell in the final 20 meters of the 400 relay and had to be carted off the track.
Still, the athletic spirit remained even during closing ceremonies when balloons were passed around for all participants.
The announcer told the athletes, "You showed the true spirit of sportsmanship."
And with that, the balloons were released in a swell of cheers and applause.
Even the balloons were cheered on as they receded into colorful dots in the sky.
In the end, all that was left to say was "See you next year!" which guarantees that the Olympic flame burning near the finish line was extinguished, but not put out for good.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jessica Williams at (701) 451-5637