NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Team Maryland is coming home today from the 1995 Special Olympics World Games with 31 medals and a lifetime of memories.
The Olympic flame was extinguished yesterday during closing ceremonies at the Yale Bowl. However, the highly successful Games -- which featured a record 7,200 athletes (including 57 from Maryland) with mental retardation from 140 countries -- were overshadowed because a Special Olympian from Nepal is believed to have drowned.
Soccer player Ramesh Mali, 21, was last seen Thursday swimming with fellow members of the Nepalese delegation at a state park in Madison. A massive rescue effort off the shores of Long Island Sound failed to find him.
The loss of Mali was on the minds of many during the final days of the World Games, which are held every four years.
Despite the somber mood, the Games went on and were capped by an impressive showing by Team Maryland's power lifters, who picked up 12 medals.
Power lifter Gary Scott, 24, of Baltimore won three medals, including a gold in the bench press (147.5 pounds), a silver in the dead lift (297.5 pounds) and a gold for the best combined weight of the two lifts (445 pounds).
Mario Washington, 21, of Pocomoke City won gold medals in the bench press (198.25 pounds), dead lift (385.75 pounds) and combined weight of the two lifts (584 pounds).
James Walters, 33, of Salisbury won a gold medal in the dead lift (429 pounds), a silver in the bench press (203.75 pounds) and a gold in the combined (632.75 pounds).
Byron Taylor, 19, of Pocomoke City won silver medals in the bench press (187.25 pounds), dead lift (308.5 pounds) and combined (495.75 pounds).
(The power lifters compete in divisions according to size and strength, resulting in multiple medals awarded in the same categories).
Walters said he was especially pumped up for his lifts after getting some pointers from Arnold Schwarzenegger, who stopped by the power lifting center earlier in the week.
"The weights are very heavy," Walters said. "But you just have to put your mind to it. And you have to talk to the weights and tell them to 'get up.' "
Other Team Maryland medal winners included:
* Swimming: Timothy Moody, 16, of Ridgely won a gold in the 25-meter backstroke (44.12 seconds); Paul Day, 20, of Annapolis won a silver in the 200-meter freestyle (3:12.47); and the relay team of David Blitz, 16, of Smithsburg, Day, Moody and Terri Lynn Morris, 16, of Nanjemoy won a bronze in the 4-by-100 meter freestyle (8:07.64).
* Bowling: Stephanie Craven, 20, of Waldorf won a bronze. Overall, Team Maryland finished fourth.
* Equestrian: Janice Allen, 36, of Wheaton won a silver in the English equitation; Amy Dietrich, 19, of Sykesville won a bronze in English equitation and Jermaine Jenkins, 16, of St. Michael's won a bronze in the English equitation.
* Sailing: Valerie Reed, 18, of Snow Hill won a gold; Billy Church, 32, of Havre de Grace won a silver; Jamie Ondrick, 19, of Port Deposit won a silver; Maria Jarvis, 19, of Aberdeen won a bronze, and Andy Rickard, 21, of Arnold won a bronze.
* Soccer: Team Maryland's soccer team from St. Mary's finished fourth.
* Track and field: Tico Clawson, 17, of Baltimore won gold medals in the 100-meter -- (11.77 seconds) and the 200-meter -- (23.28 seconds); Wanda Morgan, 13, of St. Mary's County won a gold medal in the softball throw (8.75 meters); James Downs, 13, of Abell won silver medals in the 100-meter -- (16.93 seconds) and the running long jump (2.75 meters); Brian Fultz, 16, of Baltimore won a silver in the 200-meter -- (26.82 seconds); Preston Perkins, 36, of Baltimore won a silver in the 800-meter run and Eric Clingerman, 19, of Frederick won a bronze in the 30-meter wheelchair race (26.85 seconds).
While the athletes are happy to take home medals, the Special Olympics is more about competing than winning. Those who do not place in the top three receive ribbons.
"Everyone who participated in the Games will take home something," said Team Maryland spokeswoman Miriam Weinstein. "In the end, we are all winners."