Chris O’Neil receives bronze in Special Olympics
March 31, 2017
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Skiing since he was 8 years old and doing what he loves, Christopher O’Neil has recently won the bronze medal in the Advanced Super Giant slalom skiing event on Saturday, March 18th at the Special Olympics World Winter Games. Being picked to partake in the Special Olympics was a long term dream and goal for O’Neil.
This year, the Special Olympics World Games was held in Austria, throughout the cities of Graz, Schladming, and Ramsau. Athletes from over 100 countries around the world came together to compete in around 30 events. The 2017 Games took place from March 14 to March 25.
“I love skiing. It makes me feel free,” O’Neil, a Westford Academy graduate of the class of 2008, said.
Competing in the Games is a once in a lifetime opportunity, as it’s very difficult to even be selected. O’Neil was selected in January 2016 and had been training ever since. This included intense training sessions throughout the weeks leading up to the Games.
“I was just very happy and overjoyed [when learning I was selected]. It was my dream to compete and I knew it took a lot of work to get there,” O’Neil said.
An average training week for O’Neil consisted of going to the gym and working out at home as much as possible.
Safe-gate training, which involves skiing between gates that are close together, occurred on Sundays to work on speed. O’Neil also attended practices that were held throughout the week at Nashoba Valley Ski Area and Wachusett Mountain Resort to prepare him for the Special Olympics.
O’Neil had coaches from around the country help him prepare for the competition. These coaches came from a variety of states, from Oregon to North Carolina.
O’Neil said that one of his favorite parts of being able to compete in the Special Olympics was that he was able to spend time with his teammates, who are also his friends. Along with them, O’Neil had the opportunity to meet athletes from around the world such as the Netherlands and more.
There will be a celebration held for O’Neil on April 7th from 7pm-11pm at the Nabnasset Country Club.
Since competing in Special Olympics, O’Neil offers advice from what he has learned while skiing.
“Just remember to follow your dreams no matter what. Don’t give up,” O’Neil said.