Lexington track and field athlete and Central Kentucky swimmers Vahl Forsythe of Lexington, Reba McDonald of Winchester and Kathleen Colliver of Nicholasville all opened their competition Monday with preliminary rounds at the Special Olympics USA Games in Princeton, New Jersey.
Seifert posted a best throw of 4.39 meters to finish fourth in her preliminary heat of the shot put. Ashley Parish of North Carolina led the heat with a put of 6.26 meters. Seifert will compete in the shot put final on Thursday night.
Forsythe dominated his heat of the men’s 100-yard backstroke, posting a time of 1:25.32 and finishing nearly 3.5 seconds ahead of second place finisher Cody Anderson of Missouri. He will swim the final for that event on Wednesday morning.
In the 100-yard freestyle preliminary, Forsythe swam 1:12.80 to set a personal best and place second in that heat. That final will also be Wednesday.
In her heat of the 100-yard freestyle, Colliver swam a personal best time of 3:05.51. Christa Mullins of Indiana won that heat in 1:36.48. She will also swim her final in that event on Wednesday.
No Kentucky athlete was as busy on the opening day of competition as McDonald.
McDonald had three races Monday, including swimming the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard breaststroke back to back in addition to the 100-yard backstroke.
McDonald finished her backstroke heat in 2:47.36, her 100-yard freestyle heat in 2:53.50 and her breaststroke heat in a personal best 7:10.55. She will swim all three finals on Wednesday.
Qualifying heat opponents don’t necessarily reflect final heat opponents.
Tuesday will be a busy day for central Kentucky athletes as gymnast Oana Warren of Versailles opens her competition as do track and field athletes Travis Hines of Lexington in the 100-meter dash preliminary and Fannie Stonestreet of Winchester in the 800-meter walk prelim.
Bowler Julia Steinman will also see her first competition in the singles event.
Colliver will swim the 50-yard freestyle preliminary and Forsythe, Colliver and McDonald will team with Chris Willis of Owensboro for the 4x50-yard freestyle relay preliminary.
Team Kentucky is made up of 38 athletes, one Unified Partner and 16 coaches from throughout the state.
Kentucky athletes will compete in Aquatics (swimming), Artistic Gymnastics, Athletics (track and field), Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Flag Football and Golf.
The 2014 Special Olympics USA National Games will be the third USA National Games that Special Olympics has held.
Previous games were held in 2006 in Ames, Iowa, and 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Games will bring together 3,500 athletes and 1,000 coaches from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The Games will feature 14 sports as well as a number of cultural and social activities for the athletes.
Each athlete will go on a dinner cruise around Manhattan and attend a minor league baseball game.
There will also be opportunities to receive free health screenings at the Healthy Athletes venue and a chance to spend time at Olympic Town, an interactive festival-style area.
The official Games Web site is 2014specialolympics.org.
Kentucky has had tremendous success at the USA Games.
The 2010 Team Kentucky group consisted of 39 athletes and claimed 34 medals, including 10 Golds.
The 2006 National Games team saw 42 athletes capture 42 medals, including 18 Golds.
Special Olympics is the world’s largest program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Participation in competitive events is open to all individuals eight years of age or older.
Training and competition in local, area, state, and national programs is offered year-round in Kentucky in 15 sports.
In addition to its traditional sports competitions, Special Olympics also offers early childhood programming through the Young Athletes Program and medical screenings though the Healthy Athletes Initiative.
Special Olympics Kentucky has been changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in Kentucky for 44 years.