Andy Palmer and James Reiter were honored last week by the Lucas County Commissioners for representing the county at the World Games last month in Ireland.
Mr. Palmer, 26, of Sylvania won gold medals in the 25K and 40K road bicycle races and won a silver medal in the 10K race. He started competing to be involved with other athletes from around the world.
Mr. Reiter, 40, of Toledo won a bronze medal in doubles tennis and placed fourth in the singles competition.
Special Olympics, an athletic competition for people with mental retardation, began 30 years ago and has at least 1.2 million participants in more than 150 countries. This year's World Games drew more than 7,000 athletes for 26 events.
Mr. Palmer first vied in Special Olympics in 1995. He has cycled all his life and was hooked when he won his second race. He has vied in cycling, speed skating, and bowling. He favors speed skating because it's fast. He attended the World Games in Raleigh, N.C., in 1999 and has been Ohio champion in cycling from 1996 to 2001. He works for Farmer Jack in Sylvania.
Mr. Reiter has competed since he was 15 in 1979. He went to the 1995 World Games in New Haven, Conn.
“I worked so hard to compete in the World Games in New Haven,” he said. He has been interested in sports all his life. He likes golf the best because he is good at it. He was also a torchbearer in the Olympic Torch Run preceding the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He works for Lott Industries in shipping and receiving.
These athletes were the only ones from the Toledo area to make it to the World Games with 17 other Ohioans.
“Lucas County and all of Northwest Ohio is very proud of you,” said Harry Barlos, president of the board of commissioners, as he gave a certificate to Mr. Palmer.
There are 500 Special Olympics athletes in Lucas County and about 3,200 in the state, according to Jennifer Adams, the West Section Director for Special Olympics Ohio.
Mr. Palmer and Mr. Reiter missed state competition at Ohio State University the first time in years because the World Games were at the same time. About 75 athletes from Lucas County competed at the state games, Ms. Adams said. They competed in track and field, volleyball, bocce ball, tennis, cycling, swimming, powerlifting, and gymnastics.