Local Olympian Brings Home the Gold

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

October 15, 2006

With no athletic shoe endorsements, or autograph signing sessions, Jon Fried doesn't look like your typical tennis champ. And from his very beginning, the thought of him becoming one was unthinkable

"The doctor said he would never walk or talk and we should put him in an institution," Jon's mother Barbara remembered.

But eager to prove them wrong, Jon found a sport he loved and took his best swing at it.

"When I was ten years old, i went down to Miami, Florida and Bill Hardy taught me how to play," Jon said.

Fast forward 30 years where Jon just recently returned from Berlin, Germany. He brought home the gold and silver medals at the Special Olympics National Games.
Jon captured the gold by beating six other players in singles matches, and he and Italian teammate Lele Vietti won the silver.

"Jonathan is one of the best tennis players in United States or for Special Olympics of the world, so it's very nice. I like to win and to train a winner is fantastic,' Jon's coach Daniel Sampayo said.

Jon's limitations include Monocular vision, in which his eyes do not focus together, forcing him to only use only one eye to focus on the ball. Even so, Jon's consistency is impeccable.

"He doesn't miss the ball, all the time he puts the ball in and so it's very hard for his rivals," Sampayo continued.

With eyes already set on China for the 2007 International Summer Games, Jon's plan is to emulate his favorite professional player.

"Andre Agassi, .because I look like him," Jon joked.

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