LIHUE — Archie Lanning, Kobe Bryant Iglesia, Divine Navalta, Billie Jean Waiwaiole and Coach Tamarine Carvalho have one thing in common. They were selected from Kauai to represent the state at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle starting July 1.
“This is bigger than representing Kauai,” Carvalho told the athletes Wednesday during practice at the Vidinha Stadium, sharing the facility with the Kauai High School baseball team which started doing its conditioning. “We represent the state. When you see people, you don’t say, ‘Hi!’ You say ‘Aloha!’ People like that.”
The five Special Olympics delegation will be part of the Hawaii representation that includes 19 athletes, two Unified Champion School students and five coaches from across the Hawaiian Islands.
“This is unreal,” Carvalho said. “I don’t think something like this has ever happened in more than 20 years. To be selected, gold medalists from the Summer Games on Oahu were put into a computerized pool. When the USA Games committee informed us that Hawaii would get a soccer team, a basketball team and four athletes — two boys, and two girls — in track and field, the computer spit out the selections from the gold medalist pool.”
Carvalho said the selection as coach was also a long process involving more than 100 applicants.
“These athletes will be competing on Level 3 at the Husky Stadium at the University of Washington,” Carvalho said. “This means each athlete will be doing the 100-meter run, the running long jump, shot put, 200-meter run, and the 4 x 100 relay. We’re also attempting the 4 x 400 relay.”
Originally, the Special Olympics team competed as Kauai Lanakila. For the national competition, they will be known as 808 Warriors because they are, or are alumnus of Kapaa High School, Carvalho said.
She said the group is part of Team Hawaii which includes the soccer team — The Terminators, the basketball team — Honoka‘a Hawks and the 808 Warriors. Team Hawaii is trying to raise $60,000 to get the group to Seattle. Information and contributions can be made at www.firstgiving.com/SpecialOlympicsHawaii/huio-hawaii-808-warriors-2018-usa-games-fund.
“I’m so excited,” Waiwaiole said. “I like to do shot put. This is going to be the first time I’m going to the Mainland.”
Carvalho said not only the athletes are excited.
“One of the parents said they’ll be making plate lunches to sell to help with the fundraising,” the coach said. “Look for it.”
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will feature more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing the 50 state programs and the District of Columbia along with the support of tens of thousands of volunteers and spectators competing in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports.