Pineville native grabs the gold at 2018 Special Olympics

PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - Five million gifted athletes from 172 countries around the world participate in Special Olympics events year round. The organization's goal is to show their strengths through sports.

One of those athletes lives right here in Pineville and has been smoking the competition all her life.

Tara Bounds's strong arm and fast pace secured her most recent spot representing Louisiana at the 2018 Special Olympics USA games in Seattle, Washington.

"I love sports so much, I really do," Bounds said. "I do a softball throw and a 100-meter walk."

She arrived back from the Pacific Coast on Sunday and brought home two gold medals and a silver medal.

But, the accomplishments are no surprise to her mother Phyllis Mitchell.

"We have more," Mitchell said pointing to a table full of bronze, silver and gold medals from regional and state competitions.

They've lost count of the medals that Tara has been collecting since she was eight, still, they never stop practicing for more.

"My mom trains me hard, her make me busy," Bounds said.

Using exact measurements Mitchell turned her own backyard into an Olympic training ground.

"This is our practice facility," Mitchell said.

All their hard work took Tara abroad in 2007 for the Special Olympics International Games in Shanghai, China.

"McDonald's had a seaweed burger," Bounds said. "My brother ordered one and it tasted funny."

In Shanghai, Bounds won a gold medal in the softball throw and a bronze in the 50-meter run.

Bounds is a go-getter.

"She doesn't give up, especially if she sees someone getting it in front of her," Mitchell said. "She's going to kick it in and don't look back, that's what her brother tells her."

But, her family is what helps keep her motivated.

"She loves to make people proud," Mitchell said. "She will look at me and her brother and stepdad in the stands and we would wave at her and she would wave at us."

Now, 35, when Tara isn't competing, she's at work or rooting for the Saints and her idol Drew Brees.

"Yeah, he is my hero," Mitchell said.

Ever since holding her baby girl, Mitchell had big goals for Tara.

"The doctors had said not to put expectations before her that she can not reach," Mitchell said. "I said how do you know she can't reach them if she has not tried, she is 8 months old."

Mitchell never stopped pushing.

"She is not handicapped, she has accomplished a lot more than a lot of individuals have," Mitchell said.

And if you ask Mitchell, Tara Bounds has no bounds.

"You don't look at what she can not do, you look at what she can do," Mitchell said. "They can do a lot if people would give them the opportunity. And the Special Olympics is one of those opportunities that they get to do things."

Tara hopes to qualify for the next National Special Olympic Games in Orlando, Florida.

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