Staunton Man Sets Eyes on Special Olympics World Games - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Staunton Man Sets Eyes on Special Olympics World Games

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Chris Mayo Chris Mayo

After being diagnosed with autism early in his life, Chris Mayo of Staunton hadn't found an activity that made him feel at home - until he started lifting weights.

Now, he's on the brink of going to the Special Olympics World Championship. NBC29’s Sean Cudahy joined him for a workout today at Waynesboro Family YMCA.

It all started when a friend convinced him to start lifting at age 22. Now, Mayo can bench nearly 300 pounds. He's almost 40 years old but still going strong. In fact, his coach says he's one of the most dedicated athletes he's ever seen.

Mayo will be the first to tell you - he's proud of the medals he won earlier this month at the Virginia Special Olympics 2014 Summer Games.

"It was a good feeling that's for sure. I always get a good feeling getting medals,” said Mayo.

Mayo’s long-time coach Tony Cooper says he's won a gold medal every year of his career. Mayo has been lifting for the last 16 years, all under the direction of Cooper.

"He tries hard, he trains hard, he does real well and it's just been a pleasure, a real privilege to work with him all these years,” said Cooper.

Now, Mayo has his sights set on next year's Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles. So there's a lot of work to do.

"It would mean a whole lot to me, I’ve always wanted to go to one of them,” said Mayo.

Luckily, Cooper has a plan.

“We'll start training again as usual and hopefully one day we'll get to the worlds,” said Cooper.

The Special Olympics World Games are actually random selection so Cooper and Mayo will both be anxiously waiting to see if he gets in. Beyond that, no signs of stopping the training anytime soon. Mayo says he's planning on lifting and competing as long as he's able to.

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