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Special Olympics superstar: Boynton man has 100-plus career medals

Palm Beach Post - 8/11/2018

Aug. 11--BOYNTON BEACH

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If Jonathan Doring were to put on all of his Olympic medals, he says he'd fall over from the weight of them.

"It'd be way too heavy," Doring said.

With more than 100 medals from the Florida Special Olympics and a half-dozen from National and World Special Olympic Games, the 38-year-old from suburban Boynton Beach man is building quite a collection.

He added two more medals -- a gold and a bronze -- this summer at the Special Olympics USA games in Seattle.

Kathy Doring said the Special Olympics organization has allowed her son to "blossom" despite his Fragile X syndrome diagnoses, which can cause intellectual disability and is underneath the autism umbrella.

"It's a place where he can feel like he belongs, where he feels safe and his light can shine," she said. "It's a place where he can reach his potential."

Doring has won medals in sports ranging from speed skating to softball, but his true passion is tennis.

"Tennis is a one-man sport," he said. "I like to rely on my own skills, not on someone else."

Doring plays tennis in the "high performance" bracket, one reserved for the Special Olympics' most skillful players.

"Jonathan is an incredible athlete," said Rich Fleming, the director of the Palm Beach County Special Olympics program. "You can really tell when he's out there on the court. He's taken it to another level."

In 2006, Doring won a silver in tennis at the national games in Ames, Iowa.

In 2010, he won gold playing softball at the games in Lincoln, Neb., and in 2011 he won goldin tennis at the World Games in Athens, Greece.

He's even been an official -- at the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles.

He's also a Special Olympics Global Messenger and a member of the county and state Athlete Leadership Councils.

Fleming has watched Jonathan grow in the 22 years he has served as the Special Olympics director for the county.

"When Jonathan was first involved as a young man, he was fairly shy. The more he played, the more he got involved, he really started to gain confidence," Fleming said. "He has blossomed in this world. I think the benefits of sports are priceless, and Jonathan is proof."

Jonathan has also noticed the benefits and has started to utilize some of the skills he's learned on the court in his daily life, especially when he is working as a cashier at Publix.

"I have learned that I have to stay focused. I have to concentrate when I play tennis," he said. "I have to pay attention so I can keep the math right."

He also used that focus while earning an associates degree in computer science from Palm Beach State College.

His next goal is learning to drive.

"He's been studying the manual for two years," his mother said. "It's another tool for independence, tools like the Special Olympics have been teaching him for years."

But when he's not at work or learning to drive, Jonathan spends six days a week practicing tennis.

It's his passion, he said, something he doesn't plan to ever quit.

"It feels great to look at my medals and know that I won them," he said. "I like showing off my skills. I like playing the game and just having fun."

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(c)2018 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

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