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Little City Special Olympics Set Gold Standard

Little City’s Tina Lowry, Danny S., Jeff A., and Maggie Brennan were all smiles at the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games. Danny and Jeff were two of 21 athletes that helped bring home 37 medals.

It would not be a stretch to call Kevin the most powerful Special Olympian in Illinois. After all, he recorded the heaviest deadlift in the state this year at 450 pounds.

But his power doesn’t just come from brute strength. His power comes from the process.

“These guys work hard all year,” said Tim Lahart, Little City’s Special Olympics head coach. “It’s not about the medals, It’s about setting goals and getting new personal records.”

That work ethic and focus have led Little City to become one of the state’s most successful Special Olympics teams and Tim Lahart one of the most respected coaches in his field. 2018 was another banner year for Little City as 21 athletes brought home 37 medals including 18 golds from the annual Summer Games competition that brings together the state’s best Special Olympics athletes.

Kevin M. takes a break before performing the heaviest deadlift in the state this year at 450 pounds.

In addition to Kevin’s monstrous lift, more history was made when Jimmy became the first Little City athlete to sweet his entire weight class in powerlifting.

Jimmy, who competes in the 130-pound division for powerlifting, recorded the best bench press, squat, and deadlift in his class. The total combined weight was 505 pounds, which resulted in Jimmy winning four golds at the Games.

Outside of the always dominant powerlifting team, Little City took three golds, a silver and a bronze in track and field, a silver in swimming and a gold, silver and two bronze medals in bocce ball.

“We had a good showing for a small delegation. It was exciting to see all the success we had,” Tim said. “The way we prepare, success is expected.”

The dedicated way Little City prepares is what got Tim noticed on a national level.

Tim was selected to be the powerlifting coach for Illinois at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle during the first week of July. In addition to coaching Little City athletes, Tim spent his free time on the weekends coaching the group of the four lifters from around the state he took to Seattle to compete.

The lead up to the national games also caught the attention of World Wrestling Entertainment, which came to Little City and filmed a special feature on Tim and Katie, one of the four lifters who was preparing for the Seattle competition.

Once the competition started in Seattle, Tim impressed right away as he networked with other coaches and led his team against the strongest lifters in the country. Of the four lifters on the team, only one medaled, but Tim said he was proud of the personal records everyone set.

Little City Special Olympics coach Tim Lahart had the honor of being selected as the powerlifting coach for Team Illinois at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle this past July.

One of the four lifters was unable to compete as he was still recovering from emergency surgery, but Tim said he became a star at the Games and a rallying point for the entire Illinois team.

“It was a lot of fun,” Tim said. “It was a lot of coaching because everything had to be perfect.”

With another incredible year behind him, Tim is already focused on the future.

Through the coaches he met at the national games, Tim said there are discussions about holding a competition in Myrtle Beach, a “Border Wars” with Indiana and a regional competition that would involve unified partners, meaning Tim would lift alongside a Special Olympics athlete and the combined weight would be counted.

In addition to all the possible competitions in the future, Tim will also be working with the national Special Olympics program to work on the updated manual and discuss potential rule changes and additional competitions for the powerlifting program.

“I’d love to go back and do it again,” Tim said.

“Little City uses an affirming message – that it’s a good world, there’s a place for my kids in the world and Little City will help them find it.”

Rachel, mother of children receiving home-based support services