“My favorite thing about bowling is winning and getting the strikes or the spare,” says recent Special Olympics World Games medal winner and JESPY client Jane Clark. Held in Abu Dhabi, United Emirates, the 2019 Games welcomed more than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries who competed in 24 summer sports.
During the competition, Clark earned the perfect amount of strikes and spares to bring home a silver medal in doubles; a bronze in team; and 4thplace in singles. So what was the most thrilling aspect of being on the US team? “The most exciting thing was actually competing in the World Games,” she shares. “I felt very proud to represent my country. I had a lot of fun with my teammates and my coaches, but it was also a lot of hard work.”
Clark’s hard work began a little over five years ago when she started bowling as part of the JESPY bowling team. With much effort and practice, she got better over time at the art of aiming and throwing the bowling ball. Then, she competed in a number of regional competitions and Special Olympics games in NJ and Seattle. Her participation in the 2018 Special Olympics in Seattle, WA earned her a silver medal in team and singles; and a gold in doubles.
It was just several months ago that Clark learned she would be travelling to the Middle East to compete in the World Games. But she was ready for the trip. “It was so great,” she explains. “The first day that we got there, we went to Dubai. We went to a school where they had special activities and gave recognition to Team USA. We also watched a beautiful performance by the students.”
Clark shares that she loved experiencing different cultures while in Abu Dhabi and meeting lots of new people. The people of Abu Dhabi, she notes, were very friendly and cheered for all of the athletes. In addition to competing, Clark got the opportunity to tour a museum, visit a mosque, and go on a camel ride.
When it comes to bowling, she has a motto that motivates her to keep improving. “When I know that I mess up or something in bowling. I say ‘Oh no.’ But then I tell myself to correct it on the next turn. I’m hard on myself in bowling because I expect the best for myself.”
After returning home to the United States, she didn’t let her hot streak cool down. Jane competed in the Special Olympics - Area 6 meet in New Jersey and won a gold medal. Originally from Bronx, NY, Clark has been a JESPY client for over 20 years. JESPY serves 250 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To learn more, visit jespy.org.