Auf Wiedersehen, Austria. Hello, USA!

Craig (middle) on the ice at World Games
Craig (middle) on the ice at World Games

Local Athletes Return Home from Special Olympics World Games

Two local Special Olympics speed skaters returned home last Saturday (March 25) with more than just incredible stories and stunning photos, but also some snazzy new hardware.

Congratulations to Craig Licorish of Chesterfield and Christina Dryer of Chester for their big wins during the Special Olympics World Winter Games, held March 14-25 in Graz, Ramsau and Schladming, Austria.

Craig took home bronze medals in the 777M and the 500M, and also set personal bests in both events. A 10-year veteran of Special Olympics, Craig couldn’t wait to attend his first World Games, travel abroad and learn about other countries and people.

"My family and I are so very proud of Craig and his awesome accomplishment!" Craig’s mother, Lyndrea Munnerlyn said. "His journey to Austria to compete in the World Games gave him the opportunity to not just be apart of a world wide event, but to take another step towards becoming an adult by traveling abroad without his family, by having to be responsible for important documents, such as his passport, and learning how watch out for his fellow teammates."

Christina earned gold in the 333M and silver in the 222M, and also set personal bests in her events. Christina, 27, has been involved in Special Olympics for 16 years; this was her first time participating in World Games.

"The Special Olympics Winter Games was a great opportunity for Chrissy and us to see another part of how Special Olympics helps these extraordinary athletes showcase the abilities and talents," said Christina's father, Fred Dryer. "For Chrissy, it was a really special event because it showed her dedication and hard work because she had a personal best time in all 4 of her races. She kept improving throughout her Games experience. The coaches and medical team were wonderful providing the athletes the opportunity to do their very best. We are very grateful to Special Olympics Virginia affording us the experience of a lifetime to see Chrissy become an Olympian." 

As a whole, Special Olympics USA included 150 athletes, 40 coaches and approximately 20 delegation members who supported team operations. The delegation also included Special Olympics Unified Sports® teams, where people with and without intellectual disabilities compete together, as teammates. Team members competed in seven sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing and speed skating.

In addition to 2 athletes, the Virginia team included Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg Runner, Investigator Maureen McClanahan with the Christiansburg Police Department; medical team volunteer, Dave Pawlowski, Special Olympics Virginia’s Vice President of Programs; speed skating coach, Kurt Krumreich of Virginia Beach; Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger and Virginia athlete David Egan; and Global Messenger mentor, Special Olympics Virginia’s David Thomason, Vice President of Advancement.

Two other Richmond-area nonprofits also participated in the Games’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies – Miracles in Motion and SPARC the School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community. Taylor Carpenter, one of two local athletes who danced with Miracles in Motion, also is a Special Olympics Virginia basketball player. She earned a silver medal at the Games. Additionally, Mechanicsville-native Jason Mraz performed during the Games’ Opening Ceremony.

About Special Olympics World Games: Every two years, Special Olympics holds its flagship event, the World Games, demonstrating sports excellence, which promotes equality, respect and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities around the world. Transcending the boundaries of geography, nationality, political philosophy, gender, age, culture and religion, the world came together to celebrate inclusion around the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

More than 2,700 athletes and 1,100 coaches representing 107 countries, along with 3,000 volunteers and thousands more spectators, participated in and watched exciting sports and community events. This was the second time Austria has hosted the World Winter Games, having also staged the event in 1993. ESPN was the official broadcast partner of the 2017 Special Olympics World Games, allowing an unprecedented amount of viewers around the world to be introduced to the power of Special Olympics.

In 2019, the Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in Abu Dhabi.