Local News

Bicycle Carries Special Olympian to World-Level Competition

Posted April 1, 2007 2:44 p.m. EDT
Updated April 1, 2007 10:00 p.m. EDT

— A local bicyclist is training for the opportunity of a lifetime—a chance to compete against athletes from around the world.

Her two wheels are taking Kerry Hagner places she never dreamed she would go.

"I was in total shock when I found out," Hagner said during a break from riding her bike through a make shift training course in Chapel Hill. The 22-year-old with Down syndrome was recently chosen to compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China.

She's one of only 12 athletes in the state to be selected as a member of Team USA

"They can succeed. They can be happy. They can excel just like any other child, just like any other athlete," said Ron Hagner, Kerry's coach, trainer, dad and No. 1 fan.

He is working hard to train her for the worldwide competition Oct. 2-11. Talk about pressure.

"All these people counting on me—my family, the Special Olympics and the entire world, " Kerry said with a chuckle.

Kerry isn't even competing yet, but is already getting international attention. Foreign-exchange students from China are documenting Kerry's Special Olympics journey.

It's been quite a journey, too. It took Kerry a year just to learn how to ride a bike. Now, six years later, she trains seven days a week. She says it’s worth it.

"I like going really fast. I love the wind going through my hair. I love being free out on a bike, " Kerry said.

In addition to cycling, Kerry has medaled in swimming, horseback riding, basketball and alpine skiing. She has not been told yet in which cycling event she will compete at the World Games.

Brian Carter of Durham County and A.J. Cottrill of Lee County also were selected as members of Team USA and will be going to China to. Carter will compete in the power-lifting category and Cottrill in equestrian events.