RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral)- Although the RGV Special Olympics is a two-day event, athletes have been preparing for the competition for months.
Sharyland High School’s Ivan Cabrera will be running his final race this year.
Cabrera plans to take home the gold, so he’s been preparing for at least one hour every day for the last several months by running both short and long distances.
“I’ve been preparing for the Olympics game. There’s one where I had to hold them with the relay with people as a team,” added Cabrera. “You go run forward, finish the lane, and go all the way to the finish line.”
Cabrera has been competing in the special Olympics since he was 8-years-old, according to his father and coach, Moises. He joined not only for the love of sports, but to sing the National Anthem.
“Ivan has always been a very active person. He learned to swim at the age of five and was always on the go, so running was the way to channel his energy and keep him out of trouble,” said Moises.
Sports became a method for Cabrera to learn how to count, recite his ABCs, and practice his motor skills.
“I have been feeling better. I’m doing excited because the way you do learn is more powerful and don’t give up,” said Cabrera.
Moises said Cabrera is a “very competitive athlete” and likes to win. “He’ll take a second or a third, but won’t stop trying to get the gold.”
Also striving for the gold is Genesis Hernandez, another track and field athlete representing the IDEA Thrive Toros.
Hernandez has been competing in relays for only a few years, but her coach, Anna Lasoya said her training is what makes her strong competition.
IDEA Thrive Toros have a unified partnership with IDEA Edinburg and UTRGV for more resources to make their athletes as successful as possible.
IDEA Edinburg allows for the use of their track and UTRGV presents other student-athletes who partner up with Hernandez and her team for training.
Hernandez has been training since early March, according to Coach Lasoya.
Training started out as a daily practice but has since transitioned into Tuesday and Thursday training every week where she practices in team relays and the 100-meter run.
Coach Lasoya said Hernandez is her fastest runner in the 100-meter averaging 16 seconds. “She’s a good team player.”
Hernandez is also the fourth leg, also known as the anchor for the 400-meter relay.
Although Hernandez admitted her training is fairly easy, it can sometimes be exhausting, so she always takes a moment before stepping on the track to remind herself, “I can believe in myself.”
Hernandez also believes in her team as said the best part of the games is the friends she makes and support she can give.
“She loves to cheer for her teammates. She encourages them to try their best out in the field,” said Coach Lasoya.
Both Coach Lasoya and Coach Cabrera told ValleyCentral they couldn’t be prouder of how far Cabrera and Hernandez have come. They’re looking forward to the games.
The RGV Special Olympics will be Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24 at the McAllen Memorial Stadium.
The special Olympics will have athletes competing in the unassisted and assisted walks, wheelchair races, 25M, 400M, all relay races, track and field races, tennis ball and softball throws, Turbo Jav, and jumps.
Day one will begin at 3 p.m. and wrap up at 6 p.m. The award ceremonies will be from 6:30 to 7:30 in the evening.
Day two will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.