Special Olympics Missouri track star prepares for national stage
JEFFERSON CITY – Mary McManus, 22, is sprinting her way toward rare company, as one of 103 Missouri athletes heading to the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
McManus will compete in multiple track-and-field competitions while representing Jefferson City. More than 4,000 athletes from all 50 states will compete in 14 team and individual sports in Seattle from July 1-6.
“First it was really surprising and I didn’t know that’s what happened,” McManus said on when she learned she would compete nationally. “How I didn’t believe that, but I really kept encouraging myself.”
McManus’s local coach Joe Boss, who has worked with her for four years, was a key supporter behind the summer games selection.
“She’s really blossomed into a good athlete and leader, which is why we nominated her to represent us to go to Seattle,” Boss said. “At first, she was kind of a timid and shy girl, but when you get to get her out of her shell, she’s much different.”
Boss said McManus has acquired strong leadership skills to motivate other athletes.
“Mary takes on a mothering role at times when she sees something that needs to be done, or someone that needs to be helped, she goes and does that,” Boss said. “It’s really good to see that because our athletes now are not only empowering themselves, but they’re empowering themselves enough so they can help others as well.”
Special Olympics regional coach Genice Fisher said the trip to Seattle would open the world to McManus.
“It is a great opportunity for her to grow because there’s not a lot of people in the organization that get an opportunity to go to the USA games,” Fisher said. “You walk into a stadium filled with people at opening ceremonies, there will be hundreds of people there, and it’s just a whole different atmosphere.”
Fisher said Mary’s work ethic has taught her lessons that will not only be useful in the upcoming trip, but also in real life situations.
“I think when we get to Seattle, she’s going to be one of my hardest working athletes,” Fisher said. “It teaches her social skills, it teaches her daily living skills. It helps her learn to interact with all kinds of people.”
McManus’s parents will have the opportunity to travel to Seattle. She hopes to visit the Space Needle and Waterfront Park during the trip.
“Hopefully we hang out and see something new there,” McManus said. “I really like traveling, especially with my family, and I’m really excited they’re coming to the summer games.”
McManus realizes the potential forecast could call for different running conditions compared to Mid-Missouri.
“I know there’s going to be raining, and we may have to run in rain,” McManus said. “But I’ll keep doing my best in Seattle.”