Pacific Northwest weather isn’t particularly kind to stand-up paddleboarders, and Devon Adelman has had her fair share of days that have derailed her training plans. But when she can get out to train, she gives it all she’s got. That hard work and dedication earned her a first-place finish in the final of her event on Tuesday at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
Devon took up stand-up paddleboarding only a year ago, but quickly discovered she has natural balance. “I love being able to balance, and I love being out on the water,” she said.
At the time trial of her event (Level 4, a maximum of 800 yards with turns) at Angle Lake the day prior, she seemed to be one with her board and the lake — graceful, in control, and single-minded in her goal. She immediately took the lead and held it throughout her lap around the large lake. When she paddled to shore — with the other paddleboarders several minutes behind her — and leaped off her board to stop the clock, she was all smiles. “That felt great!” she said. “Who won?” She was so focused on the race she had no idea she’d won by a wide margin. “I won? I really won?” And then her teammates were upon her with bear hugs and congratulations.
Devon repeated that focused performance on Tuesday, earning herself a gold medal, and making stand-up paddleboarding look easy in the process. “I’m dreaming with my eyes open, and it’s amazing that I can do that,” she said.
Now that Devon’s event is behind her and a medal hangs from her shoulders, the Kaiser Permanente member can enjoy the rest of the Games with her teammates. They were off to a good start after the medal ceremony late Tuesday afternoon as Team Washington’s 5 individual stand-up paddleboarding medalists hugged each other and showed off their impressive medal collection for the camera.
Prior to her win Devon said, “The biggest obstacle I’ve ever faced is other people’s doubts. Dare to be different. Dare to live. Dare to dream. Listen to your heart and follow your dreams.” On Tuesday, Devon followed her dreams right to the top of the podium.