Athletes Compete In 2005 Special Olympics

Keesler Air Force Base has turned into a sporting battleground this weekend. More than 800 Special Olympic athletes from throughout the state are competing in the games.

Athletes from across the state pounded the pavement during races at this year's Special Olympics.

Among those competing was 32-year-old Juan Blackston. He raced in the 50-meter run, cheered on by his two airmen sponsors. Taj Murphy was one of them.

"He (Juan) pretty much just takes to it himself. He's naturally pretty quick...and other than that, all he needed was to hear the sound of the gun," Murphy said.

But Saturday's games weren't all about competition. Juan and his sponsors found time for a few laughs along the way.

"He's quite the funny guy, just being around him. He's fun," said sponsor Brian Walters.

There are more athletes than ever competing in this year's Special Olympics, and at least one more game has been added to the event.

"The only event that we added this year, compared to last year is tennis. Again, this thing grows year by year, and we've added an extra event this year. I don't know what's on the table next year, but I'm sure it will be fun," event organizer Maj. Tony Harper said.

And apparently it's fun for the athletes who shine at this event, and the airmen who root them on.