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2011 Special Olympics World Games: Chris Ringot

Chris Ringot was one of 315 athletes competing on Team USA at the 2011 Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece. He journaled his experience daily:

June 18
Today was a good day. The send-off party was a blast! It was a long flight to Baltimore. I got to see my friend/roommate Christopher Missimer (aka Cody) from Illinois. We had a fun send-off dinner. I can’t believe that I am here and tomorrow we are going to Ireland and to Rhodes.

June 19
I hung out with Cody today. Then we went to the airport for our flight to Ireland. I got to talk to some of my coaches at the airport. They are all really nice. I am wondering and thinking of all of you back home. Our flight is at seven tonight. Miss you all!

June 19-20
Our plane was really cool! I slept until they served dinner. It was one of those frozen meals. It was kinda good. Then I went back to sleep and missed breakfast! When I woke up we were flying over France. I was really excited because my grandpa was born in France.

When we got to Rhodes we went to the hotel. We are in a bungalow. It is so cool! My roommates are Cody, Zach Smith, and Nick. I had my first dinner in Greece and it was tasty! We are resting because tomorrow we are swimming in the outdoor pool.

June 21
We start swim practice today and I can’t wait because it is hot in the room. I woke up sweating. The a/c is different than at home. We swam and it felt like Heaven! It was an easy practice but in days to come it will be harder. The pool is unreal! It is next to a marina with boats and yachts. On the other side of the pool is the Mediterranean Sea. Coach Jeff, Cody and me and two girls walked to the sea. You have to meet Jeff and Cody. The girls got in the water but I am going to wait because we are going back to the sea tomorrow. Lunch here is wonderful. I am having a blast! 

June 22
Last night we had a beach party with live music. It was fun. We went to the Old Town and saw dancers. We heard some Greek people giving speeches but it was too long and nobody was listening. Rhodes is well known for its jewelry but I didn’t buy any.

After practice today we went to Lindos. We saw a torch run. It reminded me of the torch run back home in Savannah. I traded some pins but I forgot my camera. Tomorrow we are going to rest for the ferry ride to Athens. I can’t wait!

June 23
Today was the flame ceremony at the ancient stadium. Then a bus took us to the ferry. It was very cool. It did not have any bedrooms so we all slept on the floor with everybody. Then the next morning I woke up to a beautiful sunrise. The ferry had really large windows so it was a cool sight to wake up to. Nobody else was up. I looked around. It was dead silent. So then it was breakfast. It was not like a US breakfast. It was two kinds of bread and some raw eggs in their shells. I ate the bread but I needed some fresh air. Overall it was really fun and I enjoyed it. 

June 24
It was a long, long wait to get on the buses. It felt like hours! We are in bungalows again and this time the a/c works. My roommates are funny. We are resting for opening ceremonies tomorrow. 

June 25
The opening ceremony was a blast. EVERYTHING ABOUT IT WAS AMAZING! 

June 26
Well, today was the first swim meet – my 200 IM and my 100 backstroke prelim. It was really fun but I need to work on my backstroke. We went to the Olympic Village. They had lots of things to buy but I did not have my money. Then we went back to the hotel and had dinner and got ready for tomorrow’s meet. My 200 medley and my 100 backstroke final and my 100 freestyle prelim.

I saw my family today! I was excited to see my mom and dad and sister. It made me so happy. 

June 27
I got two bronze medals today. They are for my 200 IM and 100 backstroke. When I got my first medal I was really excited! It was a dream come true. I never dreamed I would win a medal and now I have two. I also swam my 100 freestyle prelim and I finished first in my heat. I was amazed at all the different languages I heard. But they are just like the swimmers I swim against back home. I’ll never forget the one guy who kept burping. I know it’s not funny but I had to try not to laugh. 

June 28
Today was another good day at the pool. I won a silver medal! It was a close close race. I could hear the crowd going crazy. I swam faster than I ever thought I could.

Last night we missed the 5:00 bus and had to wait until 8:30 for a bus back to the hotel. They had to hold dinner for us at the hotel. 

June 29
Today was my 4×50 medley relay prelim. We did awesome. I watched some other Team USA swimmers and I took a nap. 

June 30
GOLD! Unexpected! My coaches and parents were very happy and excited after my relay team won gold! I swam the butterfly in the 4×50 medley relay. My family told me that I gave my team the lead after I swam the fly. Team Russia was first and we were second. We were so excited to win a silver medal. Well, after a long wait in the medal staging area we lined up in the first place spot. I thought we got second so I tapped a volunteer on the shoulder and asked her, “Did we come in first?” She said yes. Later I found out that Team Russia was disqualified. We were shocked and happy and excited. My family and my coaches were so proud of my relay team. They kept taking pictures of us. 

July 1
We went to the pool. Coach Dan took some of us to the mall and treated us to a slice of pizza. Then a group of us went to the Acropolis. It was fun because I like history. The ruins were from ancient times. It is hard to believe they are still standing. I like the museum but I didn’t see much because I started feeling sick. Coach Phil took some of us back to the hotel. I got something to drink and I went to bed. 

July 2
Well, I pulled through my sickness. I slept until morning. After Coach Dan took me to breakfast we got on the bus and went to the pool. My parents were there. My really fun thing today was hanging out with my family. I wished I did more with them but I was so tired. Thanks for letting me take a nap in the condo. After you dropped me off I went to watch Cody swim the 100 breaststroke. It was a neck to neck race. He came in third. He did really good. 

July 3
We went to the pool this morning. Team USA had a couple of relay finals. Then we came back to the hotel. Dinner was good. The thing I will miss is the food. I think I would want more Greek food when I get home. We had a team meeting. I really like Zac Smith. He is really funny and a good guy. He is also a good swimmer. I also like one girl. Her name is Margo and we flirt back and forth. The days are winding down and I want to stay here but I also want to go home. 

July 4
Closing ceremonies was spectacular! There were good performances and good speakers from all over the world. The Greek music was very interesting especially this one big guy in a white mumu playing the piano. The Greek people went crazy for him but I didn’t really get it. The fireworks were great. I felt happy and sad because it was the last night there and it had been an amazing experience for me. 

July 5
We went to the airport very early this morning to catch the plane back to the USA. When we landed in Ireland, there were 300 US soldiers cheering for us when we got off our plane. That made me feel very proud and happy to have soldiers there. We cheered for them when they left. When we landed in Baltimore there were more people clapping and cheering for us. That night they had a dinner for us and they let us get up and dance. I danced as hard as I swam in Athens! It was a blast. I said my good-byes to my team and coaches. 

July 6
We separated from our sports teams to our state groups. We flew back home to Kansas City. I was surprised by all the people who were there to meet us and cheer for us. I saw my family there. When we got home there were balloons and flowers and cinnamon rolls waiting for me. Yum. There’s no place like home. 

It was a once in a lifetime experience for me. When I see the pictures I can’t believe I really was there. It was the best time of my life. People stop me all the time and ask how it was and I can’t describe it. It was like living a dream.