More than 2,000 students from 107 nations will gather Saturday in Austria for the 2017 Special Olympics Winter Games. Among them will be a Groton High School senior.
Kinsey Henry will represent the United States in Women’s Snowshoeing event, competing in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter relay races.
She has competed in state snowshoe-racing events for three years, but this will be the first time she will compete in a worldwide competition. Having performed well in state events, winning multiple gold medals, Henry, 17, was selected last year to participate in the event.
Kinsey said she has always been active in different sports to keep herself busy.
“She is definitely a runner,” said her father, Kevin Henry.
A few years ago she decided to try something different. She found snowshoe racing and loved it. The sport is similar to relay racing, where runners run from one point on a track to another, while staying in their lane. The only difference is she is running in snow with snowshoes.
Kevin Henry said the past few years have been difficult for her to properly train since there has been little snow during the winters. When there was snow this year, she spent a lot of time training by herself and in groups.
“I’ve been training quite a bit,” Kinsey Henry said. “Mostly walking and running.”
She left last week to go to Austria with the U.S. team, which will spend a few days sightseeing — one aspect of the trip Kinsey Henry said she is most looking forward to. She will be gone for two weeks, as the Special Olympic events run from March 14 to March 25. Her father and her sister will fly to Austria later this week to support her.
“My family has always inspired me to keep going,” Kinsey Henry said.
Laura May, a counselor at Groton High School, said in a written statement by the school she has seen Kinsey Henry’s self-esteem soar since taking part in Special Olympics events.
“Her social and communication skills have really blossomed,” May said. “Her willingness to try new things and to meet new people has increased dramatically.”
ESPN will broadcast the event, the first-ever global coverage for a Special Olympics World Winter Games event, according to the sports channel.