Local athletes pick up Special Olympic medals at Copper Mountain | PostIndependent.com

Local athletes pick up Special Olympic medals at Copper Mountain

JOHN GARDNERGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted photoFrom left: Coaches Paul Squadrito and Cammi Menager, Matthew Boyles, middle, and far right is Anrique Herrera. The group gathered at the base of Copper Mountain Resort at the 2007 Colorado Special Olympics Winter Games where Matthew, 18, received two gold medals and Anrique, 14, took home two silver medals.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. As Matthew Boyles raced his way down the slopes at Copper Mountain on Sunday, March 25, in the Snowboarding Giant Slalom, he didn’t think he was going to win the race. But he did.”I was really excited,” he said. “The first thing they do is count down from five to one and they open the gate. Then you zig-zag your way down the course. It was a lot of fun and I went pretty fast.”Matthew, 18 of Silt, took first place in that race at the 2007 Colorado Special Olympics Winter Games and received a first-place gold medal for his performance.But that was only Sunday.Matthew returned to the slopes and strapped into his bindings once again on Monday to race in the Snowboarding Slalom. And he received a second gold medal. Not too shabby for his rookie year at the event.

“I didn’t expect it,” he said. “It was kind of weird when I won it.”His mother Cory Boyles said that he was so excited about winning the medals that he hasn’t taken them off since. He’s even worn them while he sleeps at night.”He’s pretty happy about it,” Cory said.Growing up with a mental disability, Matthew didn’t play many sports. But when his parents asked him a few years ago if he would like to learn how to snowboard, he couldn’t resist.”I actually learned on the first day when they started teaching me,” he said. “It’s really fun. Sometimes when I’m going down the hill I do 360 (degree) turns all the way down.”And since that first day, nearly three years ago, he’s been improving. And only one month before the Special Olympics this year he started practicing with his coach Cammi Menager, a volunteer with Special Olympics.”This was his big year for practice,’ Menager said. “He took it up pretty quickly and he did a great job. I’m very excited for him.”Matthew was one of two team members of the Sunlight Special Olympics Team to go to the state games. Matthew’s teammate, 14-year old Anrique Herrera of New Castle returned with two silver medals as well.”One of the nice things is the camaraderie between the athletes,” Menager said. “This is a way for then to get that sense of being part of a team. It’s been exciting for me to see as a coach.”Next up for Matthew are the summer events in Grand Junction. He’s excited to participate in the track and field games, again something that he’s never done before. But Matthew enjoys new challenges.”This is my first time,” he said. “I’m just going to go and see what I like.”Don’t be surprised if he comes home with the gold.Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. 16604jgardner@postindependent.com

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