Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Paralympics Don't Draw, Do Inspire

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Paralympics Don't Draw, Do Inspire

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The stands have been mostly empty; thunderstorms

dampened and delayed three nights of competition; and athletes

complained about late buses and messy rooms in the athletic

village.

But as the 1996 Paralympic Games come to a close today,

organizers proclaimed the games a success, and those who did

come to see the events walked away inspired.

They saw:

Bin Hou, from China, win the gold medal in the high jump when

he cleared 6 feet 3 1/2 inches -- on one leg.

American Tony Volpentest, born without hands or feet, break

the world record in the 100-meter race when he crossed the

finish line in 11.36 seconds, and American swimmer Trisha Zorn

win her 40th gold medal.

Orange Park's LeAnn Shannon, who at 13 is the youngest

Paralympian, break two world records on her way to winning three

gold medals and a silver in wheelchair racing.

And John Siciliano hop across the finish line in the 200-meter

race after his artificial leg fell off.

"If these kids can do this, I can do anything," said Clarence

Shannon, LeAnn's grandfather. "It's unbelievable what they do.

They're not mine, but I'm proud of each and every one of them."

In between, political types such as Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, Al

Gore, Ross Perot and Newt Gingrich visited and shook hands with

athletes, and organizers hope Americans finally understand the

Paralympics are not the Special Olympics. …

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