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PREPARED FOR WORLDS: North Powder's Atheena McClaughry will be competing in Ireland later this month at the Special Olympics World Games. Her coach is Brian Fischer. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).
PREPARED FOR WORLDS: North Powder's Atheena McClaughry will be competing in Ireland later this month at the Special Olympics World Games. Her coach is Brian Fischer. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).

By Raenelle Kwock

Observer Staff Writer

North Powder's Atheena McClaughry will be venturing to the Special Olympics World Summer Games June 20-29 in Dublin, Ireland.

She will compete in the 100-meter freestyle, 50 butterfly and 4 x 25 medley relay.

"I've been training with Sandy Roth at Veterans (Memorial Pool) every Thursday," the 21-year-old said.

McClaughry is one of 15 Oregon athletes competing in the event.

This is her first time at the World Games.

She went to Canada last July and hopes to enjoy Ireland as much.

Coach Brian Fischer said he enjoys the aspect of Special Olympics athletes competing not for the fame or the money, but for the sake of the competition itself.

"It's fun," he said. "It's a challenge," he said.

"It's mostly fun. I enjoy the sport. It's the purest form of sport."

Fischer and McClaughry leave on June 15 from Portland and will have a layover in Denver before catching a non-stop flight to Ireland, where they will spend a week.

"We get money through individual donations and corporate sponsorships," Fischer said.

Fischer has been to the last two summer games.

More than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 160 countries will be there. This is the first time a World Games has been held outside the United States. It will be the largest sporting event in the world this year.

Oregon athletes will compete in athletics (track and field), aquatics, bowling, golf, gymnastics, power lifting and soccer.

To follow the action on the Internet, go to: www.2003specialolympics.com

McClaughry began participating in Special Olympics in 1992. She was named athlete of the year in 1999 by the Blue Mountain Area and was selected to be part of the team from Oregon at the 2002 Canada Cup softball tournament.

Special Olympics Oregon was founded in 1972 and is a year-round program offering 15 different Olympic-style sports.

Over 5,000 athletes participate in Special Olympics with no fees or costs.

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