Two area athletes shine at Summer Special Olympics
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
July 21, 2003
For the first time in the 11-year existence of the Special Olympics, the international event left the boarders of the United States for its annual competition on June 20-29.
The 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Dublin, Ireland, and two area athletes made the transatlantic journey with the U.S. team.
Danny Dasis of Butler, Ala, and Phillip Spence of Enterprise crossed the ocean to compete in the aquatic events at the games that drew participants from 160 countries.
Ireland didn't just run a smooth week-plus of events, it also bookended the competition with gallant opening and closing ceremonies.
Held in Crock Park, Dublin's soccer arena, an estimated 85,000 spectators attended the opening ceremonies. The closing ceremonies brought in an estimated 70,000 spectators to see the athletes off.
The area duo made a big splash in the aquatic competition.
Dasis took the gold medal in the 50-meter free style race, with a time of 45.15 seconds, and he swam to a seventh place finish in the 50-meter backstroke, with a time of 53.11 seconds.
Spence notched a time of 57.97 seconds in the 50-meter free style to take the bronze medal, and he finished in fifth place in the 50-meter backstroke, with a time of 1:12.40.
Dasis and Spence also came back home with silver medals from the 4×50 relay, with a time of 3:38.78.
Spence swam the first leg of team U.S.'s relay race, and Dasis closed out the race for the team.
Special Olympics Team USA competed in 18 sports, including athletics, aquatics, badminton, basketball, boccie, bowling, cycling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, roller skating, sailing, table tennis, tennis, team handball and volleyball, at the summer games.
The U.S. captured 42 total medals at the game, earning 19 golds, nine silvers and 12 bronzes.
The 10-day event gave the athletes an opportunity to show off more than just their athletic prowess. The trip also allowed Dasis, Spence and their families to see a part of the world the probably would have never experienced except for the games.
In between competitions, the group got to explore the common grounds were sheperds graze their sheep, watched the ship traffic at the docks and take in some of the local flavor in the shopping districts.