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Chris Clarida...our gold medalist
 Wilkes County cyclist Chris Clarida strikes gold
at the Special Olympics World Games in Dublin

Chris Clarida of Moravian Falls is one special Special Olympian.

Chris earned a gold medal and two silver medals in the cycling competition at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland in June 2003.

Chris is the only athlete from Wilkes County and one of only 18 athletes from across North Carolina chosen to compete in the Games.

Chris won the gold in the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) race. He brought home silver in the 5K and 1K events.

2003 Games a huge international event

The 2003 Games was the largest sporting event in the world in 2003, the Special Olympics organization reports. More than 7,500 athletes from more than 160 countries competed, joined by more than 3,000 coaches, 30,000 volunteers and 28,000 family members.

Chris has been training and competing in Special Olympics for more than 10 years, and has been competing as a cyclist since 1997. He has participated in basketball, aquatics, cycling, athletics, cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing and speed skating.

In 1989, Clarida competed in cross-country skiing at the International Special Olympics Winter Games in Reno, Nev.

Clarida graduated from Wilkes Central High School in 1998. He is currently employed at Johnston Casuals. He also enjoys taking karate classes at Shotokan Karate of Wilkes, and competing in local karate competitions.

Chris' local cycling coach is Chris Rowland. Keron Poteat of Watauga County helped Chris prepare for the World Games.

BMCC backed Chris in his ride for the gold

The Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club was behind Chris all the way as he rode for the gold.  BMCC president Dwight Levi rode with Chris in preparation for the State Special Olympics in Raleigh last October.  The club sponsored the Rollin' Round the River benefit bike ride September 28th, 2002 and raised over $600 to benefit Chris and the local Special Olympics organization. Chris rode in the second annual Rollin' Round the River Ride. Paced by BMCC teammate Lonny Bumgarner, Chris completed 40 miles, the longest bike ride of his life. BMCC raised more than $1,300 for Wilkes County Special Olympics during the 2003 event.

Special Olympics Team USA-North Carolina Sponsors are: Cingular Wireless (official Team USA sponsor), RPG Benefits Solutions, the Fuqua MBA Games, Full Seven Technologies and Sunny 93.9.

The Special Olympics World Games is an event of Special Olympics, Inc. It is an international competition offered once every two years in Olympic tradition, alternating winter and summer Games.

Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition at the local and state levels for more than 26,400 children and adults with mental retardation or a closely related disability. By training and competing in their local Special Olympics programs, athletes may qualify for higher levels of competition including the state level, from which they are selected to compete at the international level. These athletes inspire greatness through their success and provide motivation to the thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide.