BV's Joshua Warner wins big at Special Olympics USA
Lifting weights is a great way to stay in shape, but for Berryville’s Joshua Warner it is also a way to have some fun and win some medals along the way.
Warner recently competed at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, where he competed in three powerlifting events. Warner brought home a gold medal in the bench press, a silver medal in the deadlift and a silver medal in the combined maximum lifts of the bench press and deadlift.
"I have been doing powerlifting for over 18 years and this was a whole new experience," Warner said. "Getting to take part in such an awesome experience is pretty cool."
Warner had never been to Seattle, but said the Special Olympics USA Games was a great experience.
"It was awesome and I would definitely do it again," Warner said. "We had paparazzi. We had celebrities like WWE wrestlers. The Special Olympics chairman was there. The Microsoft CEO was there. It was awesome."
Warner and his mother, Mary Jo Vallie, got to see the sights and sounds while out in Seattle.
"I got to see the original Starbucks and their headquarters," Warner said. "I got to see them throw the fish at Pike Place Fish Market. It was amazing."
Vallie said the Special Olympics USA Games, the city of Seattle and the University of Washington did a great job hosting the event.
"The kids all stayed on campus and almost everything was within walking distance, but we got bused to a few different venues," Vallie said. "They got to see the baseball game. It was very organized and just like you would watch the Olympics on TV. It was appropriate for the people's needs and it was all just wonderful."
In order to qualify for the Special Olympics USA Games, Warner had to compete at a regional meet in Arkansas before advancing to the state tournament in Searcy in May. "One of my buddies, who is retired now, is the one who got me hooked on powerlifting," Warner said. "I was burnt out of athletics, so I tried my first competition and I fell in love with it. I knew I liked working out and I knew I liked weightlifting, but I didn't know I had a motivation for it."
Vallie started out coaching her son, but when Warner graduated from Berryville High School in 2001 he moved to Fayetteville and got his personal coach, Lee Slusarek. Vallie said when her son was in high school, she could tell weightlifting was something Warner would be interested in for a long time to come.
"It is something he got into when he was playing football," Vallie said. "He just wanted to continue it and he loved it. He coaches some of the younger kids who are just starting out. He loves lifting and is very strong."
The Special Olympics USA Games will be held again in four years and Warner hopes to continue competing.
"I want to make it back and try to break the combined deadlift and bench press record," Warner said. "The bench press is 255 and the deadlift is 455. I'm real close to it."
In addition to competing at the Special Olympic USA Games, Warner is also a certified Special Olympic coach and is a personal trainer.
"I am the co-ed head coach for powerlifting in our area," Warner said. "I'm also the assistant coach for floor hockey. It's cool helping clients and athletes getting to the next level."
Finally, Warner will be adding to his tattoo collection after this recent trip to Seattle.
"I have the Special Olympic Oath tattooed on my body," Warner said. "I have the Special Olympic logo on my arm, the powerlifting logo, the Olympic torch and I'm about to get my national tattoo. It will have Team Arkansas, Ride With Us and have the medals on my arm."