Posted by: sonewjersey | July 19, 2011

My Trip to Greece with Team USA

The following blog post was written by Margo Lee, 23, of Princeton Junction. Margo was one of the seven athletes representing New Jersey on Team USA at the World Games in Athens. Margo came home with two Gold medals – for the 50M backstroke and for the 4x50M medley relay – and one Silver medal for the 50M freestyle.

NJ's Team USA athletes

I found out that I was picked to be on Team USA in August 2010. On June 18, 2011, I went to Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) to pack my suitcase and my carry-on bag with 6 other Team USA members from NJ. We left at 11:00 a.m. on a bus to go to Baltimore with Lillian Narvaez, SONJ’s VP of Sports.

We got to the Doubletree Hotel and checked in. That night, we had dinner and a send-off party with Team USA. On June 19, we flew to Ireland and then to Rhodes.  We practiced swimming and shopped. I went in the ocean in Rhodes. The water was cold and salty and there were rocks and seaweed in it.

Even though the games were in Athens, I explored more in Rhodes. We went to Old Town Rhodes. The old buildings were really cool. The hotel was really nice. I stayed with two other swimmers.

On June 24, we took an overnight ferry to Athens.  It was not easy to sleep. Some slept on the floor. We got to Athens on June 25, in the afternoon.

Opening Ceremonies

The first part of the Special Olympics World Games was the opening ceremonies. We walked down a pathway in the middle of the stadium. The audience was cheering and the volunteers were high-fiving us. Also, performances were going on that I could not see.

My parents took pictures of two men steering paper rams. It looked silly. I felt proud and a little scared. It also scared me to meet new people.  We got back to our hotel at 3:00 in the morning.

The swimming competition was stressful. The backstroke was exciting because I could see my opponent. I was nervous because I didn’t know if I won the race.

I missed being home, but I was more happy to have my once-in-a-lifetime experience in the Special Olympics World Games. Being with the team helped me be less homesick. I stayed in a hotel where I ate American food. When my parents took me out to lunch, we ate gyros. They had French fries inside, which were delicious.

Eating the gyro with fries

The food was good and so was the sight-seeing. We went to watch the US Tennis Team and track team. One day, some athletes and coaches from Team USA went sightseeing. We walked up to see the Acropolis Museum and the Parthenon. The walk was hot and tiring. The museum had statues in it from ancient Greece. It is cool that the statues did not fall apart over time. The Parthenon was my favorite part because I was surprised how much of the building was left. My experience was really fun!

The closing ceremony was July 4. I got sick riding the bus to the ceremony.  There was good music but I couldn’t see very well because I was lying down.  My coach Meg helped me trade t-shirts with people from other countries. I got a Japan and an Israel Special Olympics t-shirt. I traded pins with athletes from other countries, too.  Trading was fun.

Winning the gold!

On July 5, we flew back to Baltimore and stayed there overnight. On July 6, the NJ athletes rode in a van to SONJ, where my mom and dad picked me up. We took pictures with NJ athletes of Team USA with a banner from the World Games.

I started swimming again and I hope that I am picked to compete in the National Games in 2014, which will be here in New Jersey.




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