RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Although the RGV Special Olympics is a two-day event, athletes have been preparing for the competition for months.
Sharyland High School’s Ivan Cabrera will be competing in his last race this year.
Cabrera is planning to win the gold medal, so he has been preparing for at least an hour a day for the past few months running short and long distances.
“I am preparing for the Olympic match. There is one where I had to hold them with the relay with people as a team,” added Cabrera. “You will run forward, complete the lane and go to the finish line.”
Cabrera has been participating in the Special Olympics since he was 8 years old, according to his father and coach, Moises. He joined not only for the love of the sport, but also to sing the national anthem.
“Ivan has always been a very active person. He learned to swim at the age of five and was always on the move, so running was the way to channel his energy and keep him out of trouble,” said Moises.
The sport became a method for Cabrera to learn to count, recite his ABCs and practice his motor skills.
“I feel better. I’m excited because the way you learn is more powerful and don’t give up,” Cabrera said.
Moises said Cabrera is a “very competitive athlete” and likes to win. “He’ll take a second or a third, but won’t stop trying to get the gold.”
Genesis Hernandez, another track and field athlete representing IDEA Thrive Toros, is also in the hunt for gold.
Hernandez has only been competing in relays for a few years, but her coach, Anna Lasoya, said her training is what makes her competition strong.
IDEA Thrive Toros has a unified partnership with IDEA Edinburg and UTRGV for more resources to make their athletes perform as well as possible.
IDEA Edinburg allows the use of their track and UTRGV features other student-athletes who partner with Hernandez and his team for training.
Hernandez has been training since early March, according to coach Lasoya.
Training started as a daily workout but has since moved to Tuesday and Thursday training each week where she trains in team relays and the 100 meter race.
Coach Lasoya said Hernandez was his fastest runner in the 100 yards averaging 16 seconds. “She’s a good team player.”
Hernandez is also the fourth leg, also known as the anchor of the 400 meter relay.
Although Hernandez admitted her training is pretty easy, it can be exhausting at times, so she always takes a moment before hitting the track to remind herself, “I can believe in myself.
Hernandez also believes in her team, as the best part of the games said is the friends she makes and the support she can provide.
“She loves encouraging her teammates. She encourages them to do their best on the pitch,” coach Lasoya said.
Coach Lasoya and Coach Cabrera told ValleyCentral they couldn’t be more proud of how far Cabrera and Hernandez have come. They look forward to the games.
RGV Special Olympics will take place on Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24 at McAllen Memorial Stadium.
Special Olympics will have athletes competing in unassisted and assisted walks, wheelchair races, 25M, 400M, all relay races, track and field races, tennis and softball throws, Turbo Jav and jumps.
The first day will start at 3 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. The award ceremonies will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the evening.
The second day will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.