Athletes win big at Special Olympics

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — Rosekita Johnson has every right to be proud of herself.

Johnson, 19, a member of the Natchez Area 7 Swim Team, traveled by bus with her teammates to Ocean Springs to compete in a Special Olympics event on May 17. She entered the 10-meter unassisted swim and the 15-meter flotation race and kicked her way to two medals — one silver, one gold.

Johnson recalled her victorious moment on Tuesday at her home.

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“It feels good swimming. Everybody is proud of me,” Johnson said. “My dad, my brother, my family, my friends are very proud. I’ve been on the Internet and on TV.”

Johnson and her teammates, Chandler Warren, 21, Jordan Couche, 16, and Haley Freeman, 18, all brought medals home. Their winning journey began three months ago at the Natchez Senior Citizen Multipurpose Center, where the team underwent training.

“It’s been really amazing,” said Courtney Timm, who’s coached the team for three years. “Each and every one of them are winners. I told them it’s not about what medal you get but how hard you try and all of them in my eyes got gold.”

Timm shared her coaching duties this year with Lissa McManus, a graduating senior at Cathedral High School. McManus and her father drove down to Ocean Springs to get the team “pumped and excited.”

“Everyone is winner,” said McManus, who will attend Millsaps College this fall. “Nobody even got a bronze so that’s awesome.”

McManus added she is grateful the team had the opportunity to compete in the Special Olympics.

“(The athletes) need love and they need support and the Special Olympics is one way they can get that,” she said.

Johnson is confident she’ll compete in next year’s games. However, she wants a different ending to her victorious story.

“I’m gonna come back again and get both gold,” she said.