From an early age, Calvin Massenburg’s athleticism was apparent as he excelled in track and field as an elementary school student. What Massenburg’s classmates might not have known was the young athlete had autism and an intellectual disability. Today, the current Montgomery College student can also stake his claim as an Olympic gold medalist.
Massenburg has been training and competing with Special Olympics Maryland for 19 years. This past March, he flew to Abu Dhabi to participate in the Special Olympics World Games.
At the games, Massenburg competed in the 200-Meter run, 100-Meter run, and 4 x 100-Meter relay, sprinting to a gold in the 100-Meter run.
“I’m just so thankful for Special Olympics for giving him the opportunity to see different parts of the world, and challenging him to be the athlete he is,” said Wanda Irving, Massenburg’s mom.
During his regular season, he competes in the high-performance division, with the best and the fastest in the nation.
“I had the pleasure of watching both athletic and personal growth while he trained to compete among the fastest athletes in the world,” said Kira Northrop, director of media at Special Olympics Maryland. “In Abu Dhabi, he broke his personal best time in the 100M run and came in first place earning a gold medal with a time of 11.82 seconds and becoming the fifth fastest Special Olympics athlete in the world. I am so incredibly proud of Calvin and all of his success.”
“I had the pleasure of watching both athletic and personal growth while he trained to compete among the fastest athletes in the world,” said Kira Northrop
Massenburg grew up in Capitol Heights, Maryland, and attended The Ivymount School in Rockville. Between events, Massenburg attends the Challenge Program at the College. The Challenge Program provides unique open enrollment enrichment courses for adults with developmental disabilities to help them function more independently in their homes, at work, and in the community.
Massenburg says that the Challenge Program gives him the chance to attend classes with other people with various disabilities. Students learn, and reinforce, daily life skills, and explore various areas of interests in an environment that is safe and non-judgmental.
Through the program, Massenburg has increased his social and community awareness. In addition to track and field, he competes in basketball and flag football. He also loves karate, hanging out with friends, and playing with his dog, Alex.
Outside of the sports arena, Massenburg works to spread awareness about autism through Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization in the United States. His work echoes the message to athletes of the Abu Dhabi Special Olympic World Games, “Meet the determined in all aspects of their lives.”