May 15, 2012
By Ryan O'Keefe
The conditions may not have been great, but the competition was. Six Special Olympics Texas athletes took to the water during the Texas Rowing & Paddling Championships in Austin this past April. They hit the waters of Lady Bird Lake to kayak their way to gold. Rick Fleming, Sterling Hibbs, Kelly Horton and Tom Hannafin competed in the singles division, while Jay Jordan and his Unified Partner - Tom Oliver and Rebekah Williams and her Unified Partner - Zack Pace competed in the Unified Divisions.
"Everyone is so nice to us. They take the time to make sure we are part of the event like everyone else," said Special Olympics Texas - Central Texas Program Director Filitsa Leriou. The unfavorable conditions didn't stop some of the athletes from beating their own times and performing better than they did in any of the practices when the weather conditions were better. The Texas Rowing & Paddling Championship is a mixed regatta that allows rowers from all over the state to compete in various races.