EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO)—The Winter Special Olympics are going virtual this year, but that does not mean athletes are taking the competition lightly.

Lauro Garza, Special Olympics of RGV coordinator, said it is important that the Special Olympics continue this year despite the pandemic.

Human rights, COVID at issue 1 year before Beijing Olympics

“Well we’ve gone virtual in our games and to keep our athletes engaged and participating in Olympics they look forward to these games every year and so we’re doing everything we can to keep their health and fitness and participation going,” said Garza.

Garza has been a part of the Special Olympics for 15 years and said what he believes athletes gain more than recognition when they compete. 

“They gain self-confidence, they get, they have a lot of fun at these events, they feel included, they feel, they just have fun at these events when they participate, they just make friends,” said Garza.

Tokyo Olympic organizers reiterate ‘we will hold the games’

Two athletes at PSJA’S Pathways Towards Independence, Robert Coronado, and Marco Cruz will be competing in this year’s games doing the powerlifting event.

“Powerlifting is very special in how you going to exercise to get muscles” and Cruz says, “because it makes me feel good about myself, happy,” said Coronado.

Their Special Olympics coach Stephanie King said she wanted her athletes to be able to exercise on their own and because this year’s games are virtual it is allowing that to happen.

“That’s what I love about this virtual competition is that this is something they can do at home, they don’t need equipment and they can still get out there and compete and be excited to possibly get that gold medal right that they want and compete against their peers,” said King. 

Last year, she had three athletes compete at the state level and all of them medaled and this year she is so happy for her athletes and even with it being virtual she will be right there cheering them on. 

The virtual Winter Special Olympic 2021 Games started on January 16th, score submissions are due February 19th by 5 pm and you can watch the closing ceremony on March 13th at 7 pm here.

For more information on the Special Olympics, click here.