SARAH PHIPPS/The Edmond Sun Adam Saldana, 15, servers during a pingpong match Thursday afternoon at the University of Central Oklahoma during the Endeavor Games sports clinics. Saldana has been attending Endeavor Games for the past six years.

Athletes poured into sports clinics Thursday before the Eighth Annual University of Central Oklahoma Endeavor Games kicked off today

“This is our third year to host sport clinics,” said Shelley Ramsey, UCO’s event coordinator of the Disabled Sports and Events. “We are actually setting a record for clinic participation this year.”

About 150 athletes of all ages participated in various clinics, including track, table tennis and archery.

The clinics are one way to introduce different sports to young people.

“It’s great for our young people to work next to national athletes and learn from them,” Ramsey said.

More than 15 national athletes helped teach the clinics.

Sonya Norris, associate director of sports development for the U.S. Paralympics, said the clinics introduce younger athletes to what they can do and directs them to community-based programs.

“They don’t know what the possibilities are,” Norris said.

She said the clinics also are a chance for national coaches to see what type of young talent is up and coming.

Norris said two years ago most of the clinic participants were youth but now there are many older athletes also participating. She said 31 soldiers who have just returned from the war as amputees are participating in the clinics and games this year.

“They love it,” Norris said. “They’re here because they want to feel normal again.”

Jeff Skiba, the first disabled athlete to qualify for the able-bodied Indoor U.S.A. Track and Field Championship, worked with athletes during the throwing and track clinics.

“A lot of these guys are brand new so we’re teaching them the basics,” he said.

Ramsey said they introduced Parent Clinics this year. The clinics taught parents how to give their child independence and confidence, getting the best equipment for the best price and collegiate opportunities for students with disabilities.

The Endeavor Games continue through Sunday.

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