Lisa Rumer to Bring Local Triathletes to World Stage

first_imgLisa Rumer runs, bikes and swims to win.She trains special-needs athletes to run, bike and swim, because she wants them to win in life.U.S. Special Olympics triathlon coach Lisa Rumer will lead her team in the World Games in Los Angeles on July 26. Photo credit: Marco Catini PhotographyRumer will coach a team of four competitors, all from New Jersey, during the first-ever triathlon at the Special Olympics World Games, which will be held July 25 to Aug. 2 in Los Angeles.And the triathlon probably wouldn’t even be an event at this year’s World Games if it weren’t for Rumer and some other advocates who lobbied the Special Olympics to include the growing sport as part of the competition.“There’s nothing like the finish line at a triathlon, the sense of accomplishment,” said Rumer, program supervisor of Ocean City’s Aquatic and Fitness Center.Because triathlons require cross-training, they help build self-esteem in athletes with developmental disabilities while exposing them to multiple sports, Rumer said.Rumer, who turns 50 on Thursday (July 2), is well known to area fitness enthusiasts for organizing and competing in annual road races and triathlons on the island, including the Ocean City Half Marathon in September.Soon, she and the U.S.  team will be thrust into a much brighter spotlight.More than 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 170 countries will converge on Los Angeles for the World Games. The triathlon is just one of 25 sports in the nine-day competition. First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the World Games opening ceremony at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic games.ESPN will broadcast the opening ceremony live at 9 p.m. July 25. ESPN/ESPN2 will also provide nightly recaps of the competition, and ABC will also provide some coverage.The triathlon will be held Sunday, July 26 at Alamitos Beach in Long Beach, Calif. The event will consist of a half-mile swim, a 12-mile bike ride and a 5-kilometer run.The four members of the U.S. team are: Noah Dellas, 17, of Cape May Court House; Courtney Dreyfus, 18, of Scotch Plains, Union County; Ben Heitmeyer, 25, of Iselin, Middlesex County; and Amy Noctor, 27, of Washington Township, Warren County.During its coverage of the World Games, ESPN will broadcast a promo montage that includes some Ocean City flavor. A production crew visited the island for two days in late May to film Rumer and the athletes walking on the Boardwalk and training at the Aquatic Center. The crew also interviewed Rumer and her team at Oves Beach Grill on the Boardwalk.Rumer, a petite woman with short brown hair, wears running shoes to work. And she carries her dedication to endurance sports with her everywhere she goes: tattooed on her back is a triangle containing figures of a swimmer, a biker and a runner, with a lightning bolt running down the center. Also tattooed on her back is a heart-shaped bicycle chain.She lives in Marmora with her partner, Carrie Merritt, and her 15-year-old son, T.J.Competing comes naturally to Rumer; she was a track and cross-country star at Ocean City High School, where she graduated in 1983.Rumer started volunteering with special-needs athletes not long after she first came to the Aquatics and Fitness Center 23 years ago. In a recent interview, she recalled watching a young man with special needs taking part in a swim program.“He would never let go of the side of the pool,” Rumer said. But, during a Special Olympics swim event, he managed to cross the shallow pool while holding onto the divider rope.“You would have thought he climbed Mount Everest and made it to the top,” Rumer recalled. “It was awesome, inspiring.”Rumer and Merritt helped coach the New Jersey triathlon team at the Special Olympics USA Games in Trenton last June; all 16 members finished. Noah Dellas was the top male finisher overall, and Amy Noctor was the top female finisher. It was the first triathlon in the history of the USA Games.The strong showing convinced Special Olympics officials to include the triathlon during this year’s World Games, with Rumer as coach of the U.S. team.Dellas, a student in the Cape May County Technical School District, said in a recent interview that Rumer inspires him to push himself as an athlete.“She’s very understanding, and she has a lot of experience,” he said.Dellas said his goal is to attend Rutgers University, where he wants to study architecture and agriculture, as well as join the swim team.When Rumer can’t work with the athletes in person as they prepare for the World Games, she stays in touch with them online to track their progress.As a warm-up on June 20, the team competed in the Stafford Triathlon in Manahawkin.What has coaching special-needs athletes taught Rumer? That winning feels great, but helping others win feels even better.“Their appreciation and enthusiasm is so authentic, it’s just honest, real,” she said. “They’re just cool people. They kind of fill you up and make you realize that what you share with them, they appreciate, and what they share with me is definitely appreciated and rewarding.”The U.S. Special Olympics triathlon team includes Courtney Dreyfus, Noah Dellas, coach Lisa Rumer, Ben Heitmeyer and Amy Noctor. ESPN will air a montage featuring the U.S. Special Olympics triathlon team,. All four members are from New Jersey, and they are coached by Ocean City Aquatics and Fitness Center programs supervisor Lisa Rumer. Photo credit: Lookalike Productions for ESPNlast_img read more

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