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Needy wins bronze medals at Special Olympics

July 05, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

BOONSBORO - World class bowler Nathan Needy brought back two bronze medals from the 1999 Special Olympics that ended Sunday in Raleigh, N.C.

He won the medals in the mixed doubles and male doubles tournaments.

Needy, 20, of Boonsboro, said he was pleased to have performed so well in his first international competition.

Fourteen members of the athlete's family made the trip from Washington County to North Carolina for the games that began June 26.

They showed their support by waving signs and cheering at each tournament, said his mother, Kim Needy.

In one of his final games, Needy bowled a 196 with four strikes in a row, she said.

"It was a wonderful experience. It was exciting for everybody," she said.

Nathan Needy was a member of the Team Maryland bowling team, which has been training since last year in anticipation of the World Games held at the Carter-Finley Stadium. His father, Wayne Needy, is the team's coach.

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Nathan and his father returned home from North Carolina on Monday evening.

"It was unbelievable. I am so proud of him. He did very well," said Wayne Needy.

A highlight of the games was seeing celebrities Billy Crystal, Eunice Shriver, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the singing group Sugar Ray at the opening and closing ceremonies, said Kim Needy.

The bowling tournament schedule was a grueling one, but Nathan held his own with the best of the best, his father said.

Nathan, who is moderately mentally retarded, bowled three games a day for three days during the preliminary rounds. During the competition, he had one day off to rest and sightsee, and used the opportunity to see some of his favorite professional bowlers, Wayne Needy said.

Nathan traded pins with other athletes, collecting more than 50 pins representing various states and countries.

Nathan never got nervous and was not disappointed that he did not bring home a gold medal, said his mother.

"He stayed focused and did his best, " she said.

Nathan's medals are being displayed on a table set up in the family's living room but eventually will be framed and displayed, Kim Needy said.

In all, 388 bowlers participated in the games, which drew 7,000 athletes from 150 countries.

The World Games are held every two years, alternating between summer and winter games.

Events included basketball, cycling, golf, gymnastics, power lifting, roller skating, sailing, soccer, softball, volleyball, and aquatic sports, according to the event's Web site at www.99games.com.

Needy earned the spot on Team Maryland last June when he won a gold medal in the state contest by bowling a three-game 468 set.

He bowled his best official game of 222 when he threw six straight strikes in the 1997 state competition. A perfect game is 300.

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