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Special Olympics Indiana team preps for new season ahead of Tokyo games

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Tokyo Olympics aren’t the only event sports lovers are waiting for.

The Special Olympics Indiana team is already gearing up for its next summer Olympics in Orlando. It’s a program for people with intellectual disabilities to compete on a local and state level.

Fifty athletes from Special Olympics Indiana will represent the state.

This year’s Special Olympic summer games wrapped up last month. Team members say getting back in the game after the pandemic provides a new dose of motivation.

“Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt” is the motto the Special Olympic Indiana team says before every competition, and it’s something they believe.

“That is awesome to tell people that yes, I am an Olympic athlete as well. It’s just kind of a little different but at the same time, we’re all athletes,” Melony Salla said.

Salla is a multi-sport athlete with Special Olympics Indiana. She says you’ll find the same drive here as you will in the athletes competing in Tokyo.

“We train just like regular track athletes, any athlete actually,” Salla said.

She competes in the 400 meter walk, relay, javelin, and bowling. She started at 12 years old.

“In my life I was told you can’t do that because you have a disability. No, I actually can. It just might take us a little bit longer to do it or learn how to do it, but once we get the hang of it, we do it 110%,” Salla said.

Scott Furnish works with Special Olympics and plays a role in organizing competitions and getting athletes where they need to go. The organization has been around for more than 10 years.

“[Salla] is an all-star; she’s being modest here, but she’s fantastic at what she does. She’s a great athlete-leader,” Furnish said.

“Beyond sports, our athletes have voices and they can tell you just exactly what it means to lead this movement and be part of something bigger than ourselves,” Furnish added.

Salla hasn’t quite picked her favorite but says she’ll be watching the Tokyo Olympics as she eyes her next competition. The team is still fundraising to prepare for next year’s summer Special Olympic games. The biggest fundraiser will be a plane pull on Sept. 11.

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