2013-05-23 / News

Marsh sets out to break own record at Special Olympics

BY MARGO SULLIVAN


NORMAND MARSH NORMAND MARSH Jamestown’s Normand Marsh has a chance to topple a sports that has stood for 17 years the Special Olympics.

In June, he will go to the summer games at the University of Rhode Island and attempt to “set a all-time Special Olympics bench press record,” he said, adding the old mark is 255 pounds.

Marsh, 23, was born with spinal bifida, a condition that affects spinal cord. He wears leg braces and uses crutches but has devel­oped his upper body strength compensate for his disability. has participated in Special Olym­pics since he was 8, he said.

“I used to wear a back brace. I have no feeling from the knees down,” Marsh said. Last Novem­ber, he underwent another surgery at UMass Medical in Worcester, Mass. to straighten his knee. He had the first knee operation earlier.

Marsh, who weighs 175 pounds, has broken in the power­lifting eventAllrecords fiveAboutyears in Familya row, he said, and this time would his sixth record. His personal best to date is 248 pounds, he said. He admits he is focused in the heat of competition. Friends have told him he’s a different person when he goes after the records.

Marsh was born in Pawtucket. His parents, Sheila and Timothy Marsh of Jamestown, adopted him after seeing him featured a “Tuesday’s Child” segment. was a year old and has lived Jamestown ever since.He attended the Jamestown schools and Narragansett

High School. “I wanted to go to North Kingstown High,” he said, but his parents wanted a smaller school for him and settled on Narragansett. The district bused him to school. He had the same driver, Luann Botelho, he had known since kindergarten, he said. “I loved it there” he added.

He is currently studying at Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport campus. Marsh is working toward a degree in psychology but his ambition is to become a sports broadcaster.

Jamestown Community Theater director Mary Wright said he can improvise. He once an entire baseball game broadcast at the theater rehearsals.

She has been working with him in the theater since he was a toddler.

“He wasn’t afraid of anything,” she said.

His parents were told he would never be able to walk, he said, not only walks now but putsatThethe crutchesSeasonsYou on the sidelines when he plays Special Olympics basketball. He started to walk age 3 but relied on a walker, said.

He didn’t allow the walker slow him down, Wright said, remembers how he used to ”zoom” to the stage during rehearsal.

Marsh discovered powerlifting
when he was about 13 or 14, he said. His father mentioned him to the coach at North Kingstown High, and the next thing he knew, he was over at the school gym. The coach told him to “throw the bar up in the air” he said, and when he did, he was told he was going to have to try powerlifting. The coach said he would excel someday.
After four years in competition, Marsh was invited to compete with the Special Olympics National team. “It was a great honor,” he said. Bench press is his big event, but he also competes in javelin and in the Special Olympics softball throw event.

This summer games may be special for Marsh, regardless of his performance on the field. He still harbors an ambition to become a sportscaster and has promised Wright he will look into the pos­sibility of doing a live broadcast at the summer games.

“Since sixth-grade I decided to be a broadcaster,” he said. His models were Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo, who broadcast the Boston Red Sox games for NESN, he said.

“The reason I wanted to get into it,” he said. “I love baseball. I love talking about baseball and talking in general. It wouldn’t even be about the money.” Also, the broad­caster’s life sounds like fun. Marsh already watches all 162 Red Sox baseball games every season.

“I could talk about anything for two and a half hours,” he said. Be­sides, scooting around the U.S. to every baseball stadium is one of his life-long goals. He wants to visit every one of them, he said.

Marsh has never had any broad­casting experience, but he knows how he sounds on television. In 2008, he appeared on the air as a Hometown Sports Hero.

“I was the manager of our school football team” at Narra­gansett High,” he said. The players and the coaches nominated him for the honor. He was one of the first non-players ever chosen, he said.

Marsh figures broadcasting will be a tough field to break into.

“You never know,” he said. He might end up becoming a psychol­ogist and broadcasting local sports events as a hobby.

Marsh said the first Special Olympics summer games were broadcast over the major networks.

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