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For the Baker City Herald
Jamie McClaughry is all geared up in red, white and blue for his trip to the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in the Republic of Korea.
He flew from Portland to Los Angeles on Thursday to meet the rest of Team USA, and then he flies to Korea.
The Games run through Feb. 6.
There are 178 athletes from the U.S., and five from Oregon.
McClaughry, who lives in Baker City, will be competing in intermediate cross-country skiing.
He qualified by winning a gold medal in his event in the Winter State Games held in March 2012 at Mount Bachelor.
For the World Games, the names of all qualifying athletes are, essentially, drawn out of a hat.
“It’s a very, very big deal to get chosen,” said Paula Moe, coach for Baker County’s Special Olympics program.
McClaughry’s qualifying times at state were in the 1K and 3K distances. At the World Games, he will be competing in a 1K relay plus 3K and 5K races, so he’s spent the last three months training for the longer distances.
“We’ve been working him hard,” Moe said. “He’s definitely ready. We’re awfully proud of him.”
McClaughry was all smiles Tuesday as he sported one of the three outfits he’s received.
He recently trained in Lake Placid, N.Y., where he met his teammates and coach. He came home with his Team USA gear — one competition suit, two warm outfits (jacket, pants, hat) and new skis, poles and boots.
“It’s all top-of-the-line,” Moe said.
During the winter, McClaughry and his fellow Special Olympics athletes train weekly at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort. Athletes from Baker and Union counties train together.
The 2013 Games will be the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games.
The athletes will be competing at the same venues where the Olympics will be held in 2018.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics offers athletes 32 Olympic-type sports including seven winter sports: alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and floor hockey.
The mission of Special Olympics Oregon is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.”
To learn more, visit the website at www.soor.org.