2013

World Dwarf Games

Athletes’ Journal

BY: JULIA NAGY, JUSTIN WAN, DANYELLE MORROW

Athletes from the 2013 World Dwarf Games share their personal experiences.

Declan McCann

11 | Lodi, Calif.

Let's take it up a notch.

That was the thought running through Declan McCann's mind to come to the World Dwarf Games. Lodi, Calif., resident McCann, 11, participated in nationals, but it was time to compete at a higher level. McCann participated in soccer and track events.

So, he saved the money by mowing lawns, pulling weeds, cleaning patios, watering plants, and three thousand dollars later, he was able to afford a plane ticket and gear for the dwarf games.

"It feels like I'm actually able to compete in stuff," McCann said. "All the kids in my school are taller than me. It feels more even, more fair, more competitive."

For his mother, Tracie McCann, giving her son an opportunity to be with people like him has been a dream for her as a parent.

"It's the one time of year that, that happens for him," Tracie said. "Bottom line for me, the most important thing is that he's comfortable with who he is and comfortable in his own skin."


Arunachalam Nalini

India

Ramps. Buttons to automatically open the door. Easy accessibility for the disabled.

These are things Arunachalam Nalini does not know in India.

"It is amazing," Nalini said about being in the United States. "I feel that they think about us. They think about even the minority in disabled people. I feel I should respect this nation, because they respect me."

For Nalini, walking down the street solicits stares. People gawk and crowds form. Walk by a school? Forget about it.

"Normal people don't understand our feelings," she said. "They will just see us as a new species. They just laugh. I think the attitude of people should also change."

Her office, NHBC sponsored her trip to India. Without the funds, there would have been no way for Nalini to attend the games, and she said she is grateful for the opportunity to bring laurels to her nation and her office. Nalini competed in track and field events.

"I feel proud," she said.


David Miller

Millersburg, Ohio

In 2004, Miller's life changed.

He was helping his brother with a re-roof job, when he fell 15 feet and crushed his 01 vertebrae. Now he's in a wheelchair.

"It saved my life," Miller said. "It changed me. I am better off now."

A Millersburg, Ohio resident, Miller grew up Amish, and left the lifestyle after seeing the modern conveniences for disabled people. For Miller, coming to the World Dwarf Games and still being able to compete in a wheelchair has been a great opportunity.

Miller competed in the shooting and archery competitions.

"Being able to compete with somebody my size makes the playing field even," Miller said. "It's very enjoyable. You get to meet new friends. Everyone is so eager to help each other. I'm just thankful they have these events."


Spencer Stratton

16 | San Antonio, Texas

When Ruth Stratton took her son to join a soccer team, she never thought he would fall in love with sports.

But it turned out to be just the opposite.

Spencer Stratton, a San Antonio resident who now is 16, was born in Russia before the Strattons brought him to America. These days, his passion for sports is so strong that he tries to get himself involved whenever possible.

“When we first got him, he had to learn English. So we didn’t really started him in any sports or anything,” said Spencer’s mother, Ruth Stratton. “We wanted him to get a good handle on English, so he could understand the coach and all his teammates.“

Spencer considered himself an athletic person, and played for his high school football team and also worked as a team manager for the basketball players. Being one of nearly 400 athletes in the 2013 World Dwarf Games, he participated in various events, including his favorites games - basketball, soccer and flag football.

Spencer Stratton was thankful for his mother being supportive to him by traveling with him from Texas to the week-long athletic event in East Lansing.

“I have someone who is watching and like, ‘If you lose, I am still proud of you for trying playing hard,’” Spencer said.

That was not lost on Ruth Stratton.

“I just feel very blessed to have him as my son,” Ruth Stratton said. “The opportunity is endless, if you look around and open your eyes to them.”


Imogen and Amelia Hall

8 |England

Wynyard, England identical twins Imogen and Amelia Hall, 8, are first time participants in the World Dwarf Games, but have, however, competed nationally within England at the Birgmingham 2013 National Dwarf Games and received ten medals between the two of them in track and field, curling and swimming.

Sponsored for the World Dwarf Games, the two have participated in numerous events, including boccia ball, swimming, shooting and running, with plans to continue participating in events on a daily basis throughout the week.

They name soccer and hockey as some of the other sports they enjoy participating in, but their favorite part of the day, unanimously, is the swimming.

“I like doing my favorite sport. It’s gorgeous,” Imogen said, after swimming in the 25 meter backstroke with a time of 1:06.20.

Her sister finished the same event with a time of 57.02 seconds, but couldn’t wait to get back in the water before the 25 meter freestyle and the 25 meter breaststroke.

Amelia said she liked the competitive aspect as well as the everyday aspect. “Sometimes you get to have fun ... I like it when you get to swim when you glide through the water.”