POTEAU (KFSM) -- Special Olympics athletes from throughout southeast Oklahoma competed in track and field events Wednesday (March 25) to prepare for the state competition coming up in May.
Nearly 100 athletes met at Poteau High School to compete in track races, a pentathlon, the long jump, high jump, shot put, turbo javelin, and the softball throw.
"It's all about the athletes. It’s their time to shine,” Coach Cliff Parks said.
One of those athletes is Belinda Holmes.
This is her 21st year participating in Special Olympics.
"I enjoy it. It’s part of my life and I would never change it,” Holmes said.
She earned first place in both the standing long jump and shot put events Wednesday.
"I always get shocked when I get first place and I’m always proud of myself because I don’t get discouraged; I don't get sad, I don't get mad at myself because I don't do good. All I do is have a great day and put a smile on my face,” Holmes said.
She has a piece of advice:
“My advice would be just keep your heart in a good place and stay positive,” Holmes said.
All 98 athletes who participated Wednesday will be heading to the Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games.
"We just have a good time hanging out as a group. And I mean, they are competitive -- but it goes far beyond that,” Parks said. “And far beyond the score."
The Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games will take place May 13th through the 15th on the Oklahoma State University campus.
Special Olympics Oklahoma Area 10 director Randy Weaver said nearly 5,000 athletes will compete in the Summer Games, noting that Oklahoma has one of the greatest number of participants in the nation.