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Local powerlifter earns bronze at World Games

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Athletes' minds are capable of snapping pictures of certain moments or specific plays, images that remain vivid throughout their career, and even into retirement as they relate tales of past glories as if they happened just yesterday.

For Dottie Zimmermann of Evening Shade, there's little doubt about what she'll remember most about being a competitor in the 11th Special Olympic World Summer Games that were held June 16-29 in Dublin, Ireland.

"The opening ceremonies," the 24-year-old Zimmermann said. "They were awesome. It (Croke Park in Dublin) was sold out. There were 80,000 people in the stands."

After picking up three gold medals in powerlifting at the Arkansas Special Olympics in May, Zimmermann brought home three bronze medals from the World Games in Ireland.

"Dottie did very well. For someone who just got serious about powerlifting a year ago, she did fantastic at the World Games," said Lee Slusarek, head powerlifting coach for the USA's South Central regional team, comprised of athletes from Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.

"As a matter of fact, the whole team did well. Each of the 12 athletes on the squad earned at least one medal each, and some, including Dottie, won three," Slusarek commented.

Slusarek has been working with Zimmermann the past year, coaching her once a month, while local coach David McGhghy trained her three times a week.

The Special Olympic World Summer Games are held every four years, and this year's powerlifting field included 165 competitors from around the globe.

Zimmermann took bronze in the bench press, deadlift and combination (bench and deadlift) events, finishing third behind Team USA's Mid-Atlantic members Kim Richards and Yolanda Sexton in each event.

"It was neat. Some of my friends won medals too," Zimmermann said. "They're nice medals. This year's theme was 'share the feeling', and it says that on the medals."

Arkansas was represented by 30 special athletes in this year's World Games, including two powerlifters in addition to Zimmermann.

Zimmermann and her teammates spent four days in Belfast before traveling to Dublin for the opening of the games.

Seven thousand athletes were on hand for the games and were treated to an opening ceremony that included performances by Bon Jovi and U2, members of the Riverdance cast, the president of Ireland, Mohammad Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics.

As excited as Zimmermann was about winning her medals, she was equally happy with a photo opportunity.

"I got my picture with Eunice Kennedy Shriver. It was so cool," she said.

Asked to compare the World Games with the Arkansas Special Olympics held in Searcy this year, Zimmermann replied, "There was a lot more people (at the World Games). It was more interesting to meet people from all over the world. The people there were very friendly."

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