Columbia Falls Special Olympics athlete wins at World Games

March 23, 2019

Special Olympics Montana athlete Sylvester Vermillion II of Columbia Falls returns home today with four medals - two gold and two silver - he won during the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates

Vermillion won all of his medals in the powerlifting competition, earning gold in deadlift and triple combination, and silver in squat and bench press.

The lone athlete Special Olympics athlete chosen from Montana, Vermillion, 44, was a part of the 315-member delegation from the United States that included 218 athletes, 63 coaches and 34 team support members from across the country. The World Games drew 7,500 athletes representing more than 176 nations.

Vermillion competed in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle last summer for some heavy lifting on the national stage, where he won silver medals in the benching and squatting events, gold in the dead-lift and gold overall.

Challenged by a combination of disorders, including autism, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder, Vermillion fought his way to the top in his sport over the last six years with some guidance from his powerlifting coach, Mark Kuhr, of Whitefish.

“He has the desire and the heart that most athletes only dream about,” Kuhr said in an earlier interview with the Inter Lake. “Maybe some of our professional athletes could take a page out of his playbook.”

The single father of two started his powerlifting career with the Kalispell Krushers Special Olympics team in 2012 before transitioning to the Whitefish Thunder team in 2014.

One of eight powerlifters competing for the Special Olympics USA team, Vermillion was the first in his sport to ever represent Montana in the world competition, according to Kuhr.