Schulz ready for his fifth World GamesCompeting in the Special Olympics World Games is nothing new for Blaine Schulz of Jamestown. Flying to PyeongChang, South Korea, to compete in his fifth World Games — that will be a new experience for the 32-year-old man.
By: By Chris Olson, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Competing in the Special Olympics World Games is nothing new for Blaine Schulz of Jamestown.
Flying to PyeongChang, South Korea, to compete in his fifth World Games — that will be a new experience for the 32-year-old man.
Schulz will run in the men’s snowshoe 200-meter, 400-meter and mixed 4x400 meter relay races at the 2013 games Jan. 29-Feb. 5.
Making it to the international stage did not come easy to Schulz. He has worked with Matt Odin, owner of New Age Fitness and Tanning here in Jamestown, three days a week doing strength and endurance training for the last three months. When he’s not at the gym, Schulz is outside at one of Jamestown’s public parks working on his snowshoeing technique.
“He has always liked running, he is very good at it,” his father Terry Schulz said Thursday as he timed Schulz in a practice 400-meter run.
Odin said he got to know Blaine when Odin coached the Special Olympics swim team. Their mothers work at the same bank and the two men became friends through Special Olympics.
“Blaine wants to succeed,” Odin said of Schulz’s work ethic. “He works very hard, he pushes himself very hard.”
Schulz asked Odin to help him train for the 2013 games. Odin said he would not be surprised if Blaine wins gold in his events.
He will fly out of Fargo on Thursday. His parents, Terry and Marna Schulz, of Adrian, will leave Friday. Blaine’s sister Wendi Schulz will join their parents for the flight over from Seattle.
Blaine said having the chance to represent the U.S. in a foreign country is something he has only dreamed about.
“Oh, this is huge, it’s once in a lifetime,” he said. “I’ve never been outside the United States before.”
The family plans to do some touring while in South Korea.
Blaine and Terry traveled Friday to Valley City for the North Dakota Special Olympics State Winter Games. Schulz earned gold medals in the men’s 200-meter run with a time of 37.19 seconds, and in the 400, 1:42.
“It was a great day,” Terry said. “He was done by Friday afternoon, so he had good weather.”
Schulz has been part of four other Special Olympics World Games. He first competed in the 1995 World Games on a men’s and women’s soccer team. He received a participation ribbon.
Blaine returned to the World Games in 1999 at New Haven, Conn., where he earned gold medals in the running long jump and as a member of the 4x400 relay team. He received a silver in the 200 run and a bronze in the 400.
His first Winter World Games was in 2001 at Anchorage, Alaska, where he took the gold for his freestyle long program in figure skating. His last time competing at the World Games was in 2009 at Boise, Idaho. He earned two silvers and a bronze in snowshoeing.
In 2006 Blaine took part in the Special Olympics International Games Torch Run from Soldier Field in Chicago to Ames, Iowa, which hosted the event.
He was named the Special Olympics North Dakota Male Athlete of the Year in 1996. In 2005 he was the first athlete inducted in the SOND’s Hall of Fame.
Blaine said he likes being outside in the winter and doesn’t mind the cold that comes with training for snowshoe racing.
“I work at Walmart, so I’m outside all the time,” he said.
Blaine works as a stockman there.
As a Special Olympic athlete, Blaine’s travel expenses are covered by the state chapter of the Special Olympics. To help cover that cost, Blaine sold candy bars at his mother’s workplace.
“We just wrapped that up last week and sent the money to the state to go towards his airfare,” Terry said.
Special Olympics doesn’t require the athletes to pay for expenses like airfare, meals or places to stay when competing in its events.
The North Dakota Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4 donated a set of smaller, lighter snow shoes for Blaine to train and compete in.
Blaine is confident he will be able to compete when it comes time to line up at the starting line next week.
“I just have to go out and do my best and not worry about anything else,” he said.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org