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Meyer good as gold at World Games

Meyer good as gold at World Games
Meyer good as gold at World Games
Jason Meyer, 20, earned three medals at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

Soft-spoken Jason Meyer had little to say following a remarkable, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Nagano, Japan, for the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
He let his actions speak for him.
Meyer, 20, earned two gold medals and one silver in a trio of snowshoeing events at the Games, which took place from Feb. 26 to March 5 at the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.
The Corydon native was one of only five athletes from Indiana to join the 225-member Team USA. In all, 2,500 athletes from all over the world took part in the Games.
The trip cost about $6,000 per athlete for the Indiana participants, an expense underwritten by donations.
In snowshoeing, athletes put on snow shoes, run on the snow and compete in a time trial. After grouping athletes with similar disabilities and similar times, a lineup of eight participants takes to the starting line for the event final.
Similar to traditional Japanese footwear called ‘Kanjiki,’ the snowshoe is equipment that assists the athlete while walking on the snow. It works by allowing the heel to move up and down while strapped to, for example, trekking shoes; thus, its design allows the wearer to run freely.
In the snowshoeing events, a 400m circuit is used for the short- and middle-distance races. The snowshoeing events, both races and relays, range from 100m to 5km. In addition, 25m and 50m races are offered for athletes in the beginner level.
Meyer, a brawny six-footer, won gold in the 400m race, silver in the 200m race, and gold in the 1600m relay.
The snowshoe events were held at the Olympic Sports Park in Nozawa-Onsen Village.
Developed as the Biathlon venue for the 1998 Nagano Olympic Winter Games, the Olympic Sports Park is now the scene for Cross-Country Skiing Championships and the Nordic Combined Championships.
After qualifying at Paoli Peaks, Meyer’s medal-winning journey began with training at the Olympic facility in Colorado from Dec. 1-5 of last year.
On Feb. 20, he flew from Indianapolis to Los Angeles and then was bused to an Air Force base for a 14-hour flight aboard a military plane to Japan.
The first thing Meyer said he noticed when he got off the plane was the frigid weather.
After meeting his host family, Meyer took part in the opening ceremonies. Four days later, it was time to race.
In the Special Olympics Games, every athlete who has competed in the preliminary heats goes on to the finals.
In the finals, athletes are divided into groups of similar athletic ability according to the results of the preliminary round, and compete with other athletes of similar athletic ability.
This classification system is called ‘Divisioning.’ For an athlete to compete with other athletes of similar skills, athletes are divided according to the gender, age, and athletic ability.
Thus, athletes get an equal opportunity to compete, to fully exercise their abilities, and the opportunity to shine the most.
Meyer’s best time in the States for the 400m race was 2:36.02. In the preliminary round, Meyer blazed through the course in 1:53.22
That served as a primer for the championship, which Meyer won in 1:38.76 for a gold medal.
‘It was neat,’ he said of the medal ceremony.
Evelyn McPherson, director of community relations and fund development for Blue River Services and the head of Special Olympics for Harrison County, called Meyer an aggressive athlete.
‘He’s quiet for an interview, but he’s a different person when you get him in the snow or on the basketball court,’ McPherson said.
McPherson and Donna Davis, the habilitation manager for BRS, are volunteer snowshoe coaches for the Special Olympics programs in Harrison, Crawford and Washington counties.
In the 200m event, Meyer turned in a qualifying time of 46.23, or 13 seconds faster than the qualifying time he posted in the United States.
Then, in the main event, he clocked 41.66 seconds, or good enough for second place.
At the Games, Meyer was asked to be part of the 1600m snowshoe relay. He ran the third leg and helped the quartet to a time of 7:10.75, which was 32 seconds faster then the team’s preliminary effort.
The foursome wound up winning the event for Meyer’s second gold medal.
‘It was all fun,’ Meyer said of his experience at the Games. ‘It was an awesome feeling.’
An avid computer user, the youngster exchanged several e-mail addresses with fellow athletes and attractive natives of the female persuasion and hopes to keep in touch through the years.
Meyer is graduate of Corydon Central High School and is the son of Donald and Leisa Meyer of Corydon.