In the 2016 Special Olympics NC Summer Games, Roper took home a gold medal in the 200m dash for the 7th year in a row for Durham County, as well as placing first in the 100m dash and the 4 x 100 relay. After 16 years of competing, he has learned that the best way to motivate himself is through motivating others.
Through watching Michael Jordan and LeBron James compete, Roper has come to understand that competing is all about “everybody cheering everybody on.”
“Them being leaders and motivators, they try to get everyone involved. They aren’t selfish,” said Roper.
The second the starting pistol goes off on the track, Roper knows that his greatest motivation will be the runners beside of him. As he takes off sprinting, he finds that he does his best when he cheers on his competition.
In the 16 years that Roper has been competing in Athletics, his secret to gold medal success has become pacing himself. That does not stop him from going all out with a powerful sprint when the finish line is in sight!
Although Roper has won his fair share of gold medals, he acknowledges that the best part of any competition is watching others win. Just like Jordan and James on the court, Roper feels that everyone should have an equal chance at claiming the gold medal.
“Special Olympics means getting involved. If you are having the same amount of fun I’m having and you’re being treated like you’re supposed to be, you will succeed,” said Roper.
In following his NBA inspirations, Roper’s favorite place to be is on the sidelines cheering on his own competition. He finds that, “when you cheer other people on, it makes them feel even more included.”
When Roper is not sporting his Athletics gear, he can be seen in either his prized Cleveland Cavaliers jersey or in his UNC Jersey, supporting the legends that taught him what true sportsmanship looks like.