Brooke & Teri (1991)

Disclaimer: The following was transcribed from an article in the Capper Foundation Archives published by the Topeka Capital-Journal. The choice of words used at the time this was written may not reflect current Capper Foundation inclusive language and views.

Two Local girls to participate in Special Olympics

by Phil Anderson

Participation in international event means weeks of hard training for athletes.

Teri Davis gained a measure of satisfaction when she was selected to represent Kansas in this summer’s International Special Olympics.

The 17 year-old Davis, a junior at Topeka High School grew up watching her older sister, Amy Davis, compete in swimming events at Topeka West High School.

“I feel like this is the only way I can get back at my sister,” Teri said with a grin. “She got to do things I never got to do, like go to swim meets.”

Amy, a 20-year-old student at the University of Kansas has worked with Teri on her swimming skills. Amy recently taught Teri how to do flip turns when she reached the end of the pool.

In the Olympics, Teri will participate in the 100-meter freestyle, the 25-meter backstroke and the 50-meter meter backstroke.

Of four swimmers representing Kansas, Teri is the only one who can do a backstroke, said her coach, Rita Peuser.

“She’s come a long way since we started practice,” Peuser said of her pupil. “I can tell a big difference. At first, she couldn’t do two laps at a time without dying. Now, she can do eight or 10.”

Another local swimmer, 16-year-old Brooke O’Hara, will participate in the Olympics. Like Davis, O’Hara, who is from the Kansas City area but attends school at the Capper Foundation, will enter the 25-meter freestyle, 15-meter race with flotation device and 15-meter walk in the developmental division of the Olympics. O’Hara’s coach is Cathy Shea.

The Olympics, conducted every four years, will be July 19-27 in Minneapolis, Minn.

The local swimmers are two of 49 Kansas youths who will participate in eight sporting events. About 6,000 athletes from around the world are expected to compete.

The local youths were selected for the event after being nominated by their coaches.

Peuser said she nominated Teri, who has competed in Special Olympics for the past four years but had nearly given up hope of her being selected.

“We put in our application in February a year ago,” Peuser said. “They told us we’d hear by May then June. They didn’t let us know until August.”

When news arrived, the coach was nearly as excited as the athlete.

“I was pretty excited,” Said Peuser, 30, who works as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. “I was going to work, jumping up and down.”

That isn’t to say Teri wasn’t just as excited.

But before she could get too caught up in the excitement, Teri also realized she would be going up against more talented competition and that she would have to train doubly hard until the event.

Before the international event, for which they already are qualified, Teri and Brooke will compete in other events.

On Saturday they will take part in the Special Olympics regional meet at Garrett Natatorium at Washburn University. In May, they will compete in the state meet at Wichita State University.

Peuser said this was the last International Special Olympics event which will include U.S. athletes selected by their respective states

In the future, International Special Olympics will be in foreign nation and a single U.S national team will be selected.