Natchez area athletes excel at recent summer Special Olympics
Published 12:01 am Friday, May 24, 2019
By TIM GUERCIO
THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT
NATCHEZ — Forty-three Natchez-area special Olympians traveled earlier this month to compete in the 2019 Mississippi Summer Games Olympics in Biloxi at Keesler Air Force Base.
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A few of the area athletes returned home as medalists from the event where they competed in four sports: track, bowling, swimming and tennis.
The Special Olympics named one local participant, Brittany Welch, Mississippi Athlete of the Year.
Brittany Welch, who is the daughter of Adam and Lisa Welch, has competed in 20 Summer Games and named Mississippi Area Athlete of the year by Special Olympics.
“She was so surprised to win, she was smiling so big, we were all surprised,” Lisa Welch said.
Brittany Welch also returned with a gold medal in the wheelchair race event.
Swimming for Natchez and getting the chance to stand on the Olympic podium were
Joseph Byrne Weatherly and Nathan Gaude´.
Known as “Byrne” by family and friends, Joseph Weatherly won the 15-meter freestyle race and had the gold medal placed around his neck. In the 25-meter race Byrne placed fourth.
Nathan Gaudé won the gold medal in the 25-meter butterfly and was second in the 50-meter freestyle.
“I had fun, and I am proud,” Gaudé said.
Tommie Jones said she has been involved with Natchez-area Special Olympic athletes for some 35 years now, and she has been the director for the past 20 years.
“Without the help of my assistant director, coaches, volunteers and parents I could not pull this off,” Jones said.
Willie Johnson, 73, of Natchez, Jones said, has competed in more than 20 Summer Games Olympics.
“Willie used to compete in track and field but now he is a bowler, and he always looks forward to participating,” Jones said.