The 2012 Summer Olympic countdown still stands at a little over a month away before they light the torch in London, England. Fortunately, the Special Olympics season is set to get underway in many parts of the U.S. for those of us craving the athletic competition and camaraderie these games bring. Let’s spend Friday looking at a roundup of recent dispatches. All Olympics coverage needs to begin with the torch relay. Law enforcement officials take part in this tradition in many parts of the country as a way to raise money for the Special Olympics. Catherine Bowen of The Reporter in Vacaville, California, filed this story about local police officers taking part in the relay in advance of the Special Olympics Northern California Summer Games 2012, taking place on the University of California Davis campus. Bowen says some 900 athletes will compete in events that “range from aquatics and track and field to bocce and tennis.” The New Jersey state games also open today. Reporters L.B. Whyde and Anna Sudar of The Newark Advocate have a great story about Michael Radabaugh, who, like so many athletes, refuses to stop competing as he ages. Instead, now that Radabaugh has turned 40, the 12-time medalist has set aside his track shoes and picked up the bowling ball. His form while playing on the Wii looks good enough to bring home lucky number 13 in the story’s accompanying photo by Zach Gray. Danny McPherson focuses on a couple first-time Special Olympics participants in his preview for The Marion Star of Ohio, which features James Miller’s photograph of nine-year-old Autumn Hawkins cocking her arm back to hurl a softball. McPherson says the Ohio state games will have some 3,500 competitors. But coach Andy Wheeler tells McPherson that the Marion City Schools training facility may give his athletes an edge:
'One of the advantages of practicing here is there is a cinder track,' Wheeler said. 'Running on it makes them stronger, and when they get on an all-weather track, they are seconds faster.'Massachusetts also begins its Special Olympics summer games this weekend, with some 2,000 athletes scheduled to participate. Of course, the Special Olympics were founded by Brookline-native Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968; stemming from her own Camp Shriver program that gave children with disabilities the opportunity to play and compete in physical activities. So get out to Harvard or Boston University this weekend and cheer with pride for the heritage of the Special Olympics as well as the terrific accomplishments of the athletes who are competing in the games. Comments? Image by Lovin' Scoopful, used under its Creative Commons license.