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Randy Talbot–2018 Special Olympics NC March Athlete of the Month

“Hey Randy!” someone shouts as Randy Talbot walks down the street. He flashes his usual huge grin and greets them with a wave before continuing on.

High fives and hellos are common when Talbot is out and about in Pender County. From his easygoing smile to his friendly attitude, it is no wonder that Talbot is often called the unofficial mayor of Hampstead.

When Talbot started participating in Special Olympics through his school, he instantly made an impression on those around him. His coaches and teammates knew that Talbot was the kind of athlete that you can count on for anything.

From volunteering to help clean up homes and yards after Hurricane Matthew with his father, Paul, to making holiday cards to send to the Children’s Hospital, Talbot’s thoughtfulness knows no bounds.

“It’s important to be a good teammate,” says Talbot, “because I feel happy when others cheer me on, so I want to do that for them.”

Since he first began competing at age five, Talbot has strived to ensure that all of his fellow athletes felt confident before completing a softball throw or running in a race.

“He is a wonderful team player who is always there to cheer his teammates on and is the first to volunteer to help in any way and does so with enthusiasm and kindness,” explains Shannon White, Special Olympics Pender County Local Coordinator. “He is always ready to give everything he has to whatever sport he participates in.”

Each year, Talbot and his classmates would prepare for the annual Special Olympics Pender County Spring Games held for all schools in their county. The first sport that he tried was track and field, the softball throw becoming an instant favorite. As he gained confidence with sports, he began competing in basketball with his local program.

But it wasn’t until about two years ago when Talbot found his true calling: swimming.

After attending an adaptive P.E. class at UNC-Wilmington, Talbot learned about the Unified Flag Football team comprised of UNC-Wilmington students and Special Olympics athletes. Deciding to try something new again, Talbot joined the team and made new friends in neighboring New Hanover County.

Once Talbot’s new teammates told him about swimming, he knew that he had to give it a shot.

“Now swimming is my favorite sport,” says Talbot.

With practice and dedication, his favorite sport took him to his very first state-level competition: the 2017 Special Olympics NC Summer Games. Talbot traveled from Pender County to Raleigh to compete in the 50-meter freestyle event.

Despite it being his first state-level competition, Talbot says nerves never came to him that day. When the whistle blew, Talbot dove into the water and focused on his stroke, his breathing and the water surrounding him.

“I couldn’t tell if I was going faster than other swimmers. I didn’t know I had won until they brought me to the awards podium,” explains Talbot.

But once he was standing on the awards podium, his excitement was visible for all to see. As the gold medal went around his neck, Talbot knew that this was something he would remember for the rest of his life, for more reasons than one.

Because of his gold medal victory, Talbot was eligible to be entered into the drawing that would determine who would be selected to go to the 2018 USA Games in Seattle. Months after the high of winning had (only slightly) worn off, Talbot found out that his name had been selected!

“I was very surprised when I got chosen, but now I’m training hard for USA Games,” says Talbot. “It’s a big deal and I have to be ready.”

You can find Talbot at YWCA every Tuesday or at Coastal Fitness every Thursday training hard and preparing for the competition of a lifetime. Flyers are strewn across his community as everyone from school to the grocery store comes together to help support his journey to Seattle.

“Randy is the pride of Pender County. Everyone is rooting for him,” says Talbot’s mother, Marianne.

No matter what happens in Seattle, Talbot is content to keep swimming and continue living by his motto: leave it all in the pool!

Congratulations on being named the 2018 SONC March Athlete of the Month, Randy!

 

Favorites

Day of the week: Saturday, because he gets to play baseball at the Miracle Field!

Sports Team(s): Wilmington Sharks

Animal:  Penguins because they are silly.

Restaurant: Saw Mill Grill, because he loves sitting in the restaurant talking to everyone.

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