Among nearly 2,700 athletes competing in the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world this year is a figure skater from Plano.
Ian Rawn, 34, this month accomplished a lifelong dream: competing in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria. Rawn, who has Down syndrome, took fourth place in the men’s singles figure skating finals for the 22-to-34 age group Thursday night at the international competition.
When Rawn opened the letter from Team U.S.A., he says he felt “emotional,” and from that day, he says he trained hard, and he credits the support of his family and friends for helping him reach his goal.
“To be the lone Texan to represent my country and my hometown and my state is totally amazing,” Rawn says.
According to D Magazine, Rawn was first interested in figure skating while watching on television Tara Lipinski’s gold-winning performance at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan. Ten years later, he started taking lessons in Plano.
“In awe, he turned to us and said ‘I want to do that,’” his mother, Cinde, tells D. “At first we brushed it off as a nice dream, a passing fantasy. We didn’t even know there was such a thing as Special Olympics ice skating.”
Only 21 states have Special Olympics figure skating programs, D Magazine reports, and seven Special Olympics figure skaters are based in the Dallas area.
About the Special Olympics
Special Olympics has thousands of competitions around the world every year. World Games competitions are held every two years, alternating between summer and winter sports. The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in March 2019.
This year’s winter games in Austria began March 14 and end Saturday. ESPN is broadcasting stories and events during the competition.