The group of current and former students from the Elmer Knopf Learning Center were competing for a gold medal in volleyball as part of the Special Olympics global Games in Los Angeles, August 1.
Southland Special Olympians Grant McKenzie and Sherryl Saunders are bringing home the medals.
On Sunday, they’ll have a chance to say goodbye at a star-studded closing ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and the same venue where they were welcomed to Los Angeles on July 25.
The colorful Special Olympics flag was lowered and presented to a delegation from Austria, where the Winter Games will be held in 2017.
At Long Beach, Irish kayakers were celebrating after Nuala Browne from Strabane, Co Armagh won a silver medal in the 500 meters, while 54-year-old Rita Quirke from Rathangan, Co Kildare won bronze medal in the same race. Uzma Yousuf and Tauseef Hassan bagged two gold medals each, in Time Trial and Road Race respectively, and one gold each was won by Sumbal Yousuf and Salman Siddiqui competing in the Time Trial contest.
The pair fly back into Invercargill on Wednesday afternoon at 1: 35pm.
37 medals were won by Ireland’s athletes on the penultimate day of the games across a wide range of events, including kayaking, golf, bowling, equestrian, athletics, aquatics and gymnastics.
Basketball coach Vicki Ronning said she was “blown away” by her players.
Team Ireland CEO Matt English paid tribute to the coaches and management team “who have led and assisted our athletes every step of the way”.
A big victor on Day Six of the Games was Billy Kane (15) from Swords, Co Dublin who clinched silver in the floor event, gold on the pommel horse, silver on the rings, silver on the high bar, gold on the vault and bronze in the all-round section.
“She wanted to win for all the women who have breast cancer”, said Quigley’s coach, Deb Gruenloh.
Buzby added that winning this many medals go beyond validation. “I want to wish the whole team all the best for the rest of the games”.
A five-minute video showed highlights of the competitions and a flame that was lit in the Coliseum cauldron at the game opening was extinguished. I remember sitting at home feeling very depressed about my involvement in sport. The Government though the Fiji Sports Commission provided a funding of $25,000 for Team Fiji’s airfares. It was very inspiring to see all the athletes behind the scenes, warming up for their events (especially in the rainy windy London weather), and heartwarming to see the support of the fans in the stands means so much.