Mai-Lin Hegel, a Special Olympics Colorado athlete, continues to inspire after 3 decades

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. - Mai-Lin Hegel is a dedicated athlete and volunteer for Special Olympics Colorado. For more than three decades, she has been an inspiration for many. 

"I’ve been in it 36 years, I better have a story," said the smiling Hegel, who is one of the most decorated Special Olympics athletes in the U.S., participating at events for the pas 35 years.

"I love Special Olympics, it's like a second home to my family,” she said. 

Hanna Atkinson and Connor Long got the chance to sit down with this legendary Special Olympics Colorado athlete.

Swimming is Hegel's favorite sport, but has won several medals in world and national games in boarding. Besides boarding though, she also excels at track and field. "I do everything," she said. 

Hegel was born in Vietnam, but you can tell by her snow-boarding skills that she's a Colorado native.

"I don't know what year I came [here], I think I was 3 years-old."

Hagel says that she wouldn't be here if it weren't for her coaches.

"Without my coaches pushing me harder and saying, 'don't give up, you can do it,' -- they've pushed me the hardest because they know I can excel in the sport."

"What advice would you give a girl who wants to go to the World Games?," asked Denver7 reporter Hanna Atkinson.

"Just go out and try your best,” said Hagel. "If you fall you don't fail, just get back up and do it again.

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