Hours of practice has paid dividends for the eight-person Payson Special Olympic gymnastics team coached by Jane Medlock.
Participating in the Rhythmic Gymnastics events at the 2003 Winter Classic March 7 to 9 in Tucson, the local team garnered a bevy of medals for their outstanding performances in various routines. The trio of Micaela Medlock, Stefani Robison and Sharon Cheek paced the team with five gold medals each. The medals were earned in the five routines -- ribbon, floor, ball, hoop and all-around.
Other members of the team earned silver and bronze medals and fourth-place ribbons.
According to the coach, the athletes "have been practicing at least twice a week for months preparing for the competition."
One of the goals the athletes set for themselves, the coach said, was "be the best you can be."
The other seven goals, she continued, were "to be grateful, be smart, be clean, be true, be humble and be prayerful."
According to Special Olympics officials, more than 500 athletes from around the state participated in the games that featured competition in cycling, figure skating, floor hockey, speed skating and rhythmic gymnastics.
At the end of the competition, closing ceremonies and a victory dance were held at Ironwood Ridge High School.
More that 250 volunteers and coaches helped conduct the competition.