Cyclist wins gold, silver at Special Olympics World Games

Mark Zak stands with his coach, Cindy Landry, after winning a gold medal.

Photo courtesy of Allen Zak

Mark Zak stands with his coach, Cindy Landry, after winning a gold medal.

RIVERVIEW — Mark Zak, a cyclist who competed in the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece, this month, came home a winner last week.

The 19-year-old Riverview resident, who has autism, earned a gold medal in the 1K time trial with a time of 2 minutes and 33.46 seconds. He received a silver medal with a time of 21 minutes and 48.97 seconds in the 10K time trial.

"He was definitely happy," said his father, Allen Zak. "He's been walking around with the medals and showing everyone."

Zak earned a participation ribbon for his effort in the 5K race, in which he went faster than his division allowed at 10 minutes and 32.81 seconds, his dad said. A bad performance at the preliminaries caused him to be placed with a slower group, he said.

None of it would have been possible without the generosity of the coaches, volunteers and donors, said Zak's mother, Kris.

"It's so overwhelming what they did," she said. "We can't thank them enough."

As for whether Zak will compete in any future Special Olympic games, it depends.

"He really enjoys cycling, so we'll definitely keep doing it," his dad said. But don't rule out other sports. Zak is pretty good at bowling, too.

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at srossetter@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2442.

Cyclist wins gold, silver at Special Olympics World Games 07/14/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 5:15pm]

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