Powerlifter Jordan Casey has had quite the summer as a Special Olympics Tennessee athlete. Not only was he a member of Team Tennessee at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, but he also swept all four categories in powerlifting to bring home four gold medals. Jordan is known around the area as someone who is always smiling and spreading positivity through humor. He’s known for working hard to achieve his goals. His hard work was rewarded with a phenomenal trip to Orlando to participate in this year’s USA Games.
“It was, it was a crazy experience,” said Casey about USA Games. “It was good and a lot of fun. Exciting. met a lot of new people. It was, it was something different.”
To get to Florida from Tennessee, Casey got to participate in the Textron Airlift, which is a program where pilots donate their planes and flight time to bring athletes to and from USA Games. Casey was able to fly in the passenger seat of the aircraft he flew into Orlando. While he had flown commercially in the past, this was his first experience flying in a private plane.
“It was, it was crazy cool,” said Casey. “Getting to ride in the passenger seat of the aircraft and get to co-pilot. It was pretty fun. I learned a lot of new things about airplanes on that trip.”
The day after arrival was opening ceremonies at Exploria Stadium, home of Orlando City SC and the Orlando Pride. While it was hot outside, this event was something different for him.
“I've been to quite a few opening ceremonies at the state level, but national level and at USA games, that was just such a real experience,” said Casey. “It was great. I think it was probably the best ceremony I've been to, even though it was hot. Just how everything was set up and all the speakers and stuff. It was pretty good.”
Casey didn’t compete until later in the week, so he was able to watch his teammates compete and win. Throughout the event, Casey took pride in his teammates becoming family.
“All of the powerlifting team was amazing,” said Casey. “I got to help every single one of the guys on our team when they needed it. I look at them as family, because they were with me for a week, and we just had fun and got to do everything together. We built a great relationship together. One of the guys called me late last night just to talk to me. We’re a family now, and it was really good to have those kinds of teammates to be with.”
When competition day finally arrived, all of Casey’s training was ready to be put to the test. He passed that test with flying colors and won four gold medals in powerlifting: bench press, deadlift, squat and combination.
“I trained hard for about a year,” said Casey. “At first, I was physically and mentally not prepared because I didn't know what I was going into, but when I got there and met my competition and got to talk to the guys that I was competing against, they were really nice guys which made it easier for me. Competition-wise, I felt a lot of pressure because I wanted to win for the gold and bring it back home. I had good coaches beside me, and competition meant a lot of adrenaline going through me. When I was lifting and doing my weights, it was crazy. I didn't know I was that strong. But I was and it was so fun to win. When I found out I won all four gold medals it was overwhelming because it's something I worked hard for, and I accomplished what I wanted to do. And, it was at the national level of competition, which was just a blessing.”
Aside from being an amazing representative of his home state, Casey along with all athletes at USA Games had the opportunity to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. For many athletes, including Casey, this was the first time they’ve experienced the magic of Walt Disney World.
“I've never been to anything Disney, and this was it going there for the very first time in my life and experiencing all the crazy things that Disney magic has to offer,” said an excited Casey. “It was crazy, fun and exciting, and it just took me back to my childhood. All the cartoons you watched growing up from Mickey Mouse and all of them, I'm just getting to see them in real life. How it was put together was amazing.”
The entire week was like a dream to so many people. It was full of positivity, smiles and athletes cheering on each other.
“One thing that stood out to me was the excitement on everyone's face,” said Casey. “It just put a smile on my face to see all the people be happy because it's something that you don't see every day anymore. But that whole week, just seeing a glimpse of not one, but thousands of people being happy at one time, was truly awesome.”
Upon returning home from a gold-filled week at USA Games, the Sparta/White County YMCA hosted a meet& greet for Casey. He brought his medals and other memorabilia from the event to show all that attended. Casey signed autographs and took pictures with everyone in attendance. Moments like that are what make the Special Olympics Tennessee community amazing.
Learn more about events in and surrounding White County here.