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Athletes win gold at Special Olympics

Area athletes brought home seven medals, two of them gold, from the recent Special Olympics World Games in Ireland.

Swimmers Claudia Nelson of Palm Harbor and Stephanie Parr of St. Petersburg both won gold in the freestyle relay. Stephanie also won a silver in the 25-meter freestyle.

Bowler Troy Henry of Clearwater earned bronze in both team bowling and singles competitions. Cyclist Dawn Wynn of Wesley Chapel won silver in the 500-meter time trial and a bronze in the 1-kilometer time trial.

The games, held June 21-29 in Dublin, attracted more than 7,000 athletes.

Nelson and Parr are training partners and swim together twice a week at the Long Center in Clearwater.

Mindy Bunce, their coach, couldn't believe it when she received a phone call from Nelson's dad, Rick, in Ireland saying the girls had won. She picked up Claudia, 34, and Stephanie, 14, at the Orlando Airport when they returned from the games June 29.

"They chattered the whole way home," Bunce said. "They were like, "We did this, we did that, we won the gold.' "

A few days after she got home, Claudia said in a phone interview that winning the gold was the best part about her two-week trip to Ireland. Her mom, Marguerite Nelson, said she was also proud of the fact that she met Arnold Schwarzenegger.