Off to USA Special Olympics

Published 2:36 pm Thursday, June 28, 2018

Two athletes will be bringing a piece of the Heart of Virginia to the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington, which runs July 1-6.

Marquay Trent

Special Olympics Virginia Area 12 will be represented in part by Marquay Trent, of Cumberland County, and Moira Schwerdtfeger, of Prospect.

Trent will be competing in track and field events and Schwerdtfeger will be playing bocce.

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Accompanying them on this cross country adventure is Johann Greer, area coordinator for Special Olympics Virginia Area 12.

She noted that 46 athletes from the state of Virginia are competing in the Special Olympics USA Games, and having two qualifying athletes from a given area, like Area 12 does, is a rarity unless you have a team.

“We’ve been really lucky,” Greer said. “The USA Games have only happened actually four times, and each time that it has happened, we’ve actually had someone from our area go.”

One went in 2006 and 2010, and two have now gone in 2014 and 2018.

The trip will present Trent and Schwerdtfeger with new experiences.

“It is the first time for the national games for either one of them, and for Marquay, it’s going to be his first time ever flying,” Greer said.

Greer, Trent and Schwerdtfeger will be quite busy from July 1-6, but they may get a chance to sightsee Saturday.

Speaking this past Friday, Greer said, “At this time next week, we will be in Seattle, because we’re going a little bit early so that way we can adjust to the time change …”

The opening ceremony will be broadcast Sunday on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ESPN2 will be providing coverage Monday-Friday at 5:30 p.m, and ABC will air concluding coverage Sunday, July 8, at 2 p.m.

A Special Olympics press release cites that the USA Games will feature more than 4,000 athletes and coaches, and it will be the biggest sporting event hosted in Seattle in more than 25 years.

Trent will be competing in three separate events: the mini javelin, the 200-meter dash and the high performance 100-meter dash.

“If Marquay were, say, to win in his 100-meter (race) in Seattle, he will automatically advance and go to the World Games in Abu Dhabi next year,” Greer said.

Trent is in his mid 20s and ran long distance at Cumberland County High School, but he has established himself as a speedster in the two years he has participated in track for Area 12.

Moira Schwerdtfeger

“He ended up qualifying at our Virginia State Games with, like, 11.8 (seconds), and that’s what got him, because technically he was the fastest athlete in Virginia for that,” Greer said. “And then again, he ran it again and he was even faster than he was last year.”

His current personal record is 11.64 seconds.

Though Trent is successful on the track, Greer noted his passion is for basketball, and he has also participated in that sport through Special Olympics.

Schwerdtfeger, 23, has similar hardwood experience, though she has been with Area 12 for about twice as long as Trent.

“Moira’s probably been with us for about 10 years, and she does basketball, bocce and bowling with us,” Greer said.

In a brief explanation of the less mainstream sport of bocce, Greer said, “Bocce is basically lawn bowling,” with some key variations.

The game can be played with a single player, doubles and a team. Schwerdtfeger will get both the individual and team experiences in Seattle. When playing with a squad, she will join with other athletes in the commonwealth to form Team Virginia.

Greer said Schwerdtfeger’s athletic passions are largely focused on bocce and bowling.

The Herald will provide an update on how Schwerdtfeger and Trent perform at the Special Olympics USA Games.