Michelle Stevens competed at the Special Olympics as part of the 2022 Team Florida for powerlifting. Stevens trains at CrossFit Winter Garden three times a week and every Wednesday with the Special Olympics team. After five years of practicing and growing in the sport, this was Stevens’ first opportunity to compete at the Special Olympics. She earned third place in her weight category — 72 kilograms.
What do you do on a daily basis?
CrossFit, Special Olympics, I do other sports with Special Olympics. I go to Disney a lot, hang out with my dog, Loretta.
What other sports have you done for Special Olympics?
I did volleyball first, then golf and basketball and now powerlifting.
How long have you been powerlifting?
I’ve done powerlifting for five years. So, ever since I started it, it’s been one of my favorite sports and one of my best sports that I’m good at.
Because it motivates me to be more confident in myself and to show people that you can lift weights and be a special-needs athlete.
How did you get into Special Olympics in the first place?
Coach Laurie Chmielewski. She was the one that told me about it and told me to try it and go for it to see if I liked it or not. I met her when I first started doing Special Olympics from doing basketball, volleyball and golf.
What’s your favorite lift for powerlifting?
My favorite lift is the deadlift, because I feel like it’s my strongest. It’s just a little bit easier than some of the other lifts, and I’m good at that one in particular. I lift the heaviest on that lift.
What do you love most about powerlifting?
I love the energy and the confidence that the coaches give to me. (How) they motivate me when I’m feeling down myself, they tell me not to give up or quit. It helps with my confidence; to be better and stronger motivates me to be amazing.
Tell us about your experience with Special Olympics.
I didn’t know (that I had qualified) until they contacted me through a Zoom call— the WWE wrestlers did. I wasn’t expecting anything like that, but it was just amazing.
Tell us a little bit about your experience at the Special Olympics?
The experience was amazing. I met a lot of friends and got closer to people that I’ve known but I didn’t know much about. It was amazing (to see) other athletes compete in the sport. It’s just motivation, it motivated me to be more like them.
How was the competition?
My competition was really tough. I competed against some girls that were not very nice to me that would get in my head … because I was the new girl.
How do you feel about placing third at the Special Olympics?
The feeling of getting third in the beginning was a little “I wish I had done better, and I wish I had gotten a better place.” But then at the end, overall I got over it. I was a little discouraged, because I was sad and everything about it. But at the end, I was joyful and really proud of myself, very grateful, and I wore my medals around my neck. So it was a great feeling getting third but in the beginning not so much. I would have wanted to place second or first, but I got over and I just said, “No, it’s OK, it happens.”
How was training for the Special Olympics?
I trained every Wednesday. When they had CrossFit competitions, I’d go in and work in different movements for my competition.
What’s your favorite thing to do?
Special Olympics, basically, exercising and meeting new people. I love to go to Disney.
What was your favorite Disney park to visit during Special Olympics?
I can’t (answer) that, because I like them all. I always go to Disney, so I only went to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, so I have to say both. Every park is different.
What’s your favorite food?
Probably steak or chicken.
What are three things that make you happy?
My dog (Loretta), CrossFit Winter Garden — this place makes me really happy — and Disney.
Blue, I’ve liked that color and been a fan of blue since I was a little kid.
What’s the coolest vacation place you’ve been to?
Probably the beach. It’s a relaxing, calm and a pretty happy environment.
Three things on your bucket list?
I’d like to go to Hawaii, I want to go on a trip (and) I have a goal to lift a certain amount of pounds in powerlifting — 300 for deadlift.