Families, friends and fans from all over the country came together earlier this week to celebrate the kickoff of the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, presented by Jersey Mike’s Subs, in Orlando, Fla.
This week Special Olympics athletes will compete in 20 Olympic-style team and individual sports at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex and several other world-class sports facilities around Central Florida.
The Cline family was in attendance as Elba’s own Joseph Cline was among the young athletes from Alabama participating in the Games. Joseph is part of the Team Alabama swim team, and he has competed already this week in backstroke and individual medley swim events.
Also, Joseph participated Sunday in the Opening Ceremonies for the Games.
Joe Dzaluk, 2022 Special Olympics USA Games President and CEO, said, “We are so excited the USA Games are finally here! This week we celebrate the hard work and dedication of thousands of athletes and their coaches. Together we are showing the world how it is possible to come together through inclusion, connection and sports. These Games are the largest in Special Olympics USA Games history, and we are proud to shine the spotlight on the athletes as they showcase their remarkable abilities on and off the field.”
For the first time in USA Games history, athletes will compete in five new sports — Cheerleading, Equestrian, Open Water Swimming, Surfing and Triathlon. In addition, together with Full Sail University, the USA Games will host its first ever Unified Esports Invitational. The addition of these sports has allowed more athletes than ever to take part in the USA Games. While in town, the athletes will also take part in exclusive programs and activities designed to ensure everyone has a fun and memorable experience, including visiting Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Spirit and community are at the heart of the USA Games, and each day fans can attend the athletic competitions and awards ceremonies – at no charge – visit the Fan Zone, take part in special activities, and learn more about Special Olympics programs.
Back home in Elba, Joseph’s many fans have been keeping up with his successes in the pool via Facebook updates from his mom, Anne, and from the smiles on Joseph’s face, he has been having the time of his life at the Games!
On Tuesday morning, Jospeh finished third in the 100 yd Backstroke event for a bronze medal win! He received his bronze medal later that night during an awards ceremony.