Their golden moments are still fresh in their minds, but two Special Olympics athletes from Davenport have one memory of their participation in the World Games in South Korea they want to let go of.
“The only thing we don’t want to see anytime soon is rice,” said Debbie McDaniel, 38, a double gold medalist in snowshoeing.
She and Stuart Brown, 33, clients of New Choices, were Iowa’s athletic representatives to the Special Olympics in PyeongChang. Brown earned a gold and a silver in snowshoeing and represented the United States snowshoe athletes in the closing ceremony.
They said that rice was a staple with every meal. Brown said he also tried sushi and kimchi.
“You always have to try something new,” he said, describing the kimchi as spicy. McDaniel turned up her nose at the Asian offerings.
They had a great time competing and cheering on their fellow competitors.
“I am proud of Debbie and proud of me,” Brown said.
“We were proud of everyone around us,” McDaniel added.
McDaniel and Brown both had trouble early on in the games. McDaniel finished fifth in the 100-meter snowshoe race. Brown tripped in a time trial for the 4x100-meter snowshoe relay. He described his tumble as flying “like Superman.”
McDaniel dug down for her next event, the 200-meter snowshoe race and won gold.
“I told myself that night I was going to try harder,” she said after her 100-meter performance. She also won a gold in her division’s 4x100-meter snowshoe relay and in the 200-meter snowshoe race.
Brown reported that after his early mishap, his relay race went without a hitch, earning him the gold medal in his division. He won silver in his division’s 200-meter snowshoe race.
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“They did a nice job representing Iowa,” said Marie Randol, their local coach. “I was proud of them. You prepare them, but you never know how they will do in competition.”
McDaniel had a birthday while she was in South Korea, so she was welcomed home by her family and more than one cake.
Brown’s return was more low-key. He said he would do it again if the opportunity arose, and thanked Tom Kay, Joe York and Jenny Kay of New Choices for giving him the opportunity.
While Brown liked to try new things and cheering on his teammates, he didn’t like the long airplane rides it took to reach South Korea. McDaniel said she liked flying though the flight to and from South Korea was long.