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Athlete takes three

The excitement of participating in her first Special Olympics hasn’t worn off for Moorea Howson.

You can still hear it in the voice of the eight-year-old.

Howson, a student at El Moro Elementary School, was one of more than 1,500 athletes to compete at the Southern California Special Olympics Summer Games held June 15-17 at Cal State Long Beach.

Not only did Howson compete "” the Laguna Beach’s residence’s forte was gymnastics "” but she came home with three coveted medals.


Howson, who has Williams Syndrome, won silver in both the bars and for her overall performance, and bronze on the balance beam, in her age group.

She also competed on floor and vault but it is the bars, she said, that is her favorite competition.

“It was a miracle,” said Howson, joyous still, at the memory of competing. “It was a fun experience doing it.”

Howson was one of several county gymnasts ages 8-to-39 who trained for 12 weeks at Azarian U.S. Gymnastics Training Center in Aliso Viejo, in preparation for the Summer Games.


She was one of four youngsters from the Orange County community gymnastics team that was selected to perform at the games.

Howson is in her first year with the team.

“I was completely thrilled with her performance,” said Jenny Wilson, head coach of the Orange County community gymnastics team. “She is one of those kids whose energy is just infectious. She always has a smile on her face.

“Not only is she really excited about her own gymnastics, but she’s also really supportive of her teammates. She’s a great addition to our team.”

Howson became interested in gymnastics after watching the 2004 Olympic Summer Games, her mother, Kris, said. Kris Howson was told of the Summer Games in Long Beach and knew it could be a great opportunity for her daughter.

“Moorea was just so excited to get the chance to compete,” she said.

Howson said that her favorite part of the games was marching at The Pyramid on the Cal State Long Beach campus with other competing athletes.

“I enjoyed it, it was really exciting and I made some new friends,” she said.