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Local golfers bring back bronze medal from Special Olympics World Games

Posted at 6:38 AM, Apr 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-05 08:05:55-04

Two local golfers are still basking in the glow of winning a bronze medal at the Special Olympics World Games in United Arab Emirates last month.

When asked if he was planning to take his medal off anytime soon, Ryon Knodl quickly responded, “no.”

Knodi is from West Allis. He participates in Unified Golf, which pairs Special Olympics Athletes with people who do not have a disability. Ken Kuemmerlein, also from West Allis, is Knodi’s coach and playing partner.

“I stop thinking about him as a (Special Olympics) athlete, and just think about him as a person I’m golfing with,” said Kuemmerlein. “That’s the idea behind it. You stop thinking about them as special needs, and you think about them as your partner, or your teammate.”

In addition to days of rigorous competition on a very challenging course, Knodi said it was hard because there was so much sand.

But, the pair saw the sights and got the full Olympics treatment.

“They had a ton of activities for us,” Kuemmerlein said. “We had sports and cultural exchanges with the people in Dubai. Then just meeting all the athletes from all over the world. There are so many people you meet. Everybody is so happy. It's such a cool thing.”

Both guys know regardless of the outcome, it was the trip of a lifetime. Still, not too bad to bring home some hardware for Team USA.

“The plan was not to embarrass America for me," said Kuemmerlein. "By getting a medal, I did not do that. The medal was great and that's a big part of it.”

For information on becoming a volunteer or participating in Special Olympics Wisconsin, click here.