Forty-nine-year-old Special Olympics athlete Joy McLeod has never traveled abroad and the World Winter Games in Austria mark the first time she has been so far away from home. Taking the travel and distance in stride, McLeod took gold in the 800m snowshoe finals at Ramsau am Dachstein Ski Jumping Stadium.
A resident of Colorado, McLeod can often be found cross training at Mt. Falcon, using a variety of workout combinations such as mountain biking and combined walking and running hills for endurance and agility. The winding trails and switchbacks are particularly challenging but she knows they are an important part of her training strategy and she loves being in the mountains.
“When I get tired, I pick a point in the distance and set that as a goal to reach doing this over and over while saying to myself, ‘I can do it,’ because I know the payoff will be increasing my speed,” she says.
McLeod has been involved with Special Olympics for more than 30 years, first participating in figure skating as a teenager at a regional competition in Salt Lake City in 1985, and later moving into other sports including basketball, softball, cycling, track & field, gymnastics, bocce and, most recently, snowshoeing.
She will be participating in the snowshoe 4 x 400 relay later in the week. When not training, McLeod is a scorekeeper for a local basketball team in her hometown.