Special Olympians Prepare For Summer Games

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The Payson Special Olympics team is gearing up for the granddaddy of all Arizona State competitions -- the 2007 Summer Games.

All events in the games, except for equestrian, will be contested May 3, 4 and 5 on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

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At the Arizona State Special Olympic games in Tempe, Payson will be represented by a trio of 4x100 relay teams, two shot putters, a bevy of entrants in the 400-meter race walk and two athletes in the 50-meter dash.

"The athletes have been working hard and are looking forward to the games," said Special Olympics coach Ruby Lane. "They have new uniforms and this is an exciting time for them."

At the games, Payson will be represented by a trio of 4x100 relay teams, two shot putters, a bevy of entrants in the 400-meter race walk and two athletes in the 50-meter dash. Also, there are multiple Rim entrants in the softball throw and 200 meters. A single athlete has signed up for the 1500-meter run.

All track and field events will be held in Sun Angel stadium.

"We will also have a gymnastic team that will be going to state," Lane said.

Gymnastics will be held in Wells Fargo Arena.

The Payson team's trip to Tempe begins at 8:30 a.m., May 4 at Chapman Auto Center. There, athletes will meet law enforcement officers entered in the Torch Run. At 9 a.m. the run will continue south on Beeline.

Run entrants carry a Torch, which they will pass on to a Special Olympics athlete in Tempe who will light the "Flame of Hope." The flame burns throughout the Special Olympics games.

During the run, participants collect contributions on behalf of the Special Olympics program.

Special Olympics Arizona, which is approaching its 30th anniversary, serves more than 9,100 athletes through a network of volunteers.

Among those volunteers are Payson coaches Mark Smith, Jan Miner and Lane.

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