Aug 11, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorAndrew Haslam a national champ at Special Olympics
Andrew Haslam had the time of his life in June when he competed at the Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey.
And he won a gold medal, too.
Haslam, of Riverton, was on the top of the podium after winning the 50-yard backstroke.
"It was so cool to win it," Haslam said.
He also won a bronze medal in the 25-yard backstroke, and finished fourth in the 25-yard freestyle.
Haslam is the son of Craig and Chris Haslam.
"He was a happy camper," Craig Haslam said. "His motivation was the fact he won a bronze before that. He was very disappointed with it. It was pretty neat to see it (when he won the gold later)."
His mother was overwhelmed with the reaction.
"He had worked really hard for it," Chris said. "He wanted that gold medal really bad."
There are no age divisions at the Special Olympics.
"They do prelims, which classifies them into people with their own time," Craig said. "Then they do a competition for the medals."
Andrew represented Team Wyoming at the games.
"When we were trying to leave, he got a little emotional," Wyoming Special Olympics coach Sarah Call said. "He was sad to leave his teammates. He was just proud to be a part of Team Wyoming.
"Andrew is a dedicated swimmer," Call said. "He was really able to rise to the occasion when we were there. He was focused."
Call said family support was big for Andrew.
"He was so pumped up for that last race," Call said. "He just did incredibly well."
Call was not surprised with the gold medal.
"He is competitive and driven," Call said. "He just enjoyed the games."
Call said Andrew had the lead the entire race in his gold medal swim.
"It was pretty clear after the first 25 yards that he was going to win the gold medal," Call said.
Call hopes Andrew won't slow down in the swimming pool.
"I would love to see him continue to swim," Call said. "He is a great swimmer."
"It was a pretty humbling experience to watch people that have disabilities to put their all into something and succeed," Chris said.
Chris said the athletes all hug each other after the events.
"There are some really good athletes," Craig said. "It's different kind of a competition."
Andrew has been involved with Special Olympics for almost 20 years.
"We got him involved so he can be a part of something and compete," Craig said.
Andrew's family has been a part of Shoshoni High School sports.
"We are a competitive family, so he wanted to be a part of that," Craig said.
Andrew also has competed in bowling, basketball, and track and field.
The next goal for Andrew is to attend a World Games.
"That would be nice if we could get it done," Craig said.
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