Gaming glory: Special Olympics athletes try hand at Esports during USA Games

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Special Olympics USA Games underway in Central Florida include all the traditional sports like track and field and powerlifting, but this year’s games have several new events as well.


Part of the reason Orlando was chosen to host the USA Games was the variety of venues in Central Florida.

That includes the fortress at Full Sail University, the site of the first Esports Unified Invitational and the largest Esports arena on a U.S. college campus.

READ: 5 of 6 people missing from Haiti delegation participating in Special Olympics USA Games not athletes

It’s also where Special Olympics athletes like James Holder from Brevard County are competing for gaming glory.

“It’s good for your hand coordination and motor skills. And it gives you plenty of time to learn about it’s all about communication skills,” he said.

READ: 2022 Special Olympics USA Games underway in Orlando

Unified Sports allows Special Olympics and able-bodied athletes to compete side by side, giving competitors such as Holder an opportunity to compete.

Esports is not a sanctioned event in the Special Olympics USA Games, so the invitational is only an exhibition, but athletes said they expect that to change.

READ: How hundreds of health care workers are keeping athletes safe at Special Olympics USA Games

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Joe Kepner

Joe Kepner, WFTV.com

I unloaded the U-Haul in Orlando in 2008, just in time to cover the Magic's run to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.