Local athletes returned to the central Kenai Peninsula with shiny medals after the 2022 Special Olympic USA Games in Florida earlier this month.
Darryl Magen, who earned silver in the 50-yard freestyle and gold in the 100-yard freestyle swimming competitions, said competing in his first Olympic race was “awesome.” He said his favorite part of swimming is racing other teams.
Some of Magen’s family members were also able to make the trip to Orlando for the Games. Darry’s father Ned said attending was a big deal.
“Oh it was so cool,” he said. “They do the march in, they get the award ceremony. … It’s a really big production and it’s really impressive.”
Magen has been shown a lot of love during his Olympic run and upon his return home too, his father said.
“I thought the community support has been unbelievable,” Ned said. “The sendoff, but also people before that supporting him. And since he’s gotten back it’s great.”
When asked what’s next for Magen, he said he wants to swim again.
Josh Delie, another local athlete who made his return from the Games this month, said he felt a lot of pride after winning the gold for unified bocce.
“When I first got my gold medal, I was so emotional that I was proud of myself and proud of what I accomplished there,” he said.
Delie’s been playing bocce for between four and five years, he said. He and his unified partner Sam Eason set up courts locally around Soldotna to practice in the summer, and competed together as partners at the Games.
“It was a lot of work. There’s stiff competition,” Eason said.
He attributed the pair’s success to their teamwork.
“Me and Josh really communicated a lot, so seeing him follow the game plan, listening and then executing out there on the court was really awesome,” Eason said.
Delie isn’t planning on disrupting his bocce routine any time soon, either.
“I’m still going to compete and not take a break, because I don’t want to,” he said. “I don’t want to lose that stronghold that I got.”