Olympia’s own Mitchell “Mitch” Hibdon, along with parents Kerry and Chris Hibdon, traveled to Berlin where Mitch took part in the world’s largest inclusive sports event, the Special Olympics World Games 2023. Mitch and Kellen Mendez were the two athletes selected from Washington State to represent the United States at this prestigious competition He had an impressive performance, earning bronze and silver medals in multiple powerlifting categories. Mitch’s success is a testament to the impact of recreation and teamwork for people of all abilities.

Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023

Every two years, this incredible event showcases the talent and determination of athletes from all corners of the globe. When the Special Olympics World Games takes place, Special Olympics USA sends 100 athletes of various disciplines to the event. Two athletes are always selected from each state.

Mitch was part of an eight-person powerlifting cohort that wore the USA jersey while competing in various powerlifting categories. With over 7,000 athletes from roughly 190 countries, thousands of coaches, and tens of thousands of volunteers, the world games are an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

“Our family has been in Olympia for a long time,” Mitch’s father, Kerry Hibdon, says. “Mitch attended Olympia High School and was involved with Thurston’s Specialized Recreation programs in the past. He’s been a member of the Tumwater Valley powerlifting team for individuals with disabilities for the past few years now.”

Mitch was one of eight powerlifting athletes that wore the Special Olympics USA jersey at the Special Olympics World Games this year in Berlin. Photo credit: Kerry Hibdon

Traveling across the globe is hard on any athlete, but having a disability can make it even tougher. “Mitch is on the autism spectrum,” Kerry explains. “At first, we weren’t sure how the break in routine would go over, but it ended up being an amazing experience all around.”

Competing on such a grand stage was an unfamiliar challenge for Mitch, who had to step out of his comfort zone. It’s safe to say that he rose to the occasion.

Mitch Hibdon Lifts to the Challenge at Special Olympics

Mitch’s skill in powerlifting was evident as he secured medals in various categories at the Berlin Special Olympics World Games 2023. In the Deadlift, Squat, and Combination events, Mitch earned bronze medals. His exceptional performance also earned him a silver medal in the bench press event. Many cheers and congratulations were heard during his time on the podium.

Although earning Olympic medals was a highlight of the experience for the Hibdon family, it was only one of many notable moments. Kerry explains that Mitch traveled to Berlin five days ahead of his parents. “We were a little nervous about the trip and were eager to check in once we arrived,” Kerry says. “It was great to see each other, but it didn’t take long for Mitch to be ready to rejoin his teammates. We were surprised by that. It was amazing to see the energy and camaraderie that had already formed.”

Mitch Hibdon powerlifting with a spotter behind him, two people on the sidelines and the judge sitting in front of him
Powerlifting competitions involve coaches, spotters, judges, and volunteers to help make the event run smoothly. Mitch competed in multiple powerlifting categories at the world games. Photo credit: Kerry Hibdon

Thurston County Specialized Recreation Helps People of All Abilities Find Their Passion

Mitch’s success as an athlete proves the impact of Thurston County’s Specialized Recreation programs as well as inclusive sports programs in general. Mitch’s involvement with the Tumwater Valley Powerlifting Team has provided him with a platform to explore and excel in his passion for powerlifting. Before powerlifting, though, Mitch had tried a smattering of different sports and recreation programs, often through Thurston’s Specialized Recreation department, which focuses on providing programs and activities for people of all abilities.

Kerry emphasizes the importance of these programs and encourages anyone interested to reach out. “It’s important that everyone has opportunities to participate in things that interest them,” he says. “The sense of community and camaraderie fostered by these programs can go such a long way.”

Mitch Hibdon and two other people stand on podium, holding hands while raising arms above their heads
Mitch Hibdon and fellow podium athletes celebrate their achievements at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. Photo courtesy: Special Olympics

Thurston County Cheers as Athletes in Specialized Recreation Make Their Mark

Mitch Hibdon’s outstanding performance at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 has brought immense pride to his family, friends and the community of Olympia. His dedication, strength and perseverance have been recognized on a global stage where he was awarded multiple Olympic medals.

If you’re interested in learning more about Thurston County’s Specialized Recreation department, visit the Thurston County’s Specialized Recreation website or give them a call at 360.867.2679.

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