Special Olympics powerlifter honored for winning 4 gold medals

HUNTINGTON, Long Island (WABC) -- A Special Olympics athlete from Long Island was honored Monday for winning four gold medals in powerlifting at the international Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi.

Angel Athenas, 34, of Huntington won the gold medal in deadlift, squat, bench press and overall weight lifting. Her largest lift was a deadlift of 292 pounds.

"I don't get tired. I keep going and I never stop going," Athenas told Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne. "It's called dedication, working hard."

Athenas, who has ADHD, bipolar disorder and a mild intellectual delay, receives services through Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (FREE). The group honored her Monday morning at its headquarters in Old Bethpage.

"Angel is just a true inspiration to each and every one of us," said FREE CEO Robert Budd. "Here's a special Olympian who goes out for something she had never done historically, connects to this new passion and creates a world record. It doesn't get better than that."

Athenas won four gold medals in powerlifting at the 2018 United States Special Olympics in Seattle last year and broke the women's deadlifting record at the 2018 New York Special Olympics in Albany.

Her biggest supporter and champion is her mother Geralyn Athenas who adopted Athenas out of foster care when Athenas was eight years old. Athenas had been abandoned at birth by her mother at the hospital.

"It's not special," said Geralyn Athenas about the Special Olympics. "It's people of determination and what we found out in Abu Dhabi is that their idea is not you're special needs, you have different needs, no, it's you're more determined than everybody else because you're a person of determination."

Angel Athenas works out six days a week at the gym and is training to lift even more weight. She said one of her goals is to get six-pack abdominals.

To learn more about Athenas' story click here.

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