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Going for the Gold: A local paralympic athlete will represent the US in France

Joseph Chun's journey to the Virtus Global Games has been filled with obstacles but his mother says he's remained determined.

ATLANTA — A local athlete is making his way to France to proudly represent the United States in the highly anticipated Virtus Global Games. The prestigious event, held every four years, is one of the largest in the world. It's specifically designed for athletes with intellectual disabilities. 

Joseph Chun has triumphed over numerous obstacles to reach this point, demonstrating resilience and determination that inspires those around him.

Born with Down syndrome, Joseph refused to let his condition hinder his love for sports. Even when frequent ear infections forced him to quit swimming, he persevered and found solace in trying every sport imaginable. Joseph's unwavering dedication to athletics was fueled by the unwavering support of his mother Erin Chun.

"God has given us this incredible gift," she said expressing her gratitude. 

Erin recognized the tremendous honor it is for Joseph to compete on the mat, showcasing his skills at the American Taekwondo United competition.

She vividly remembers the challenging journey they have faced together. When Joseph was born 26 years ago, premature with Down syndrome, she was uncertain about the road ahead. However, doctors encouraged Erin to raise him like any other child, fostering an environment where Joseph could explore his interests freely.

Erin embraced this advice and allowed Joseph to immerse himself in various sports, including soccer, baseball, and taekwondo. Before settling on taekwondo, he discovered a sense of peace and accomplishment through swimming, which he pursued after undergoing spinal cord tumor surgery at 8 years old.

Joseph excelled in swimming, earning gold medals in competitions such as the Special Olympics. However, frequent ear infections temporarily sidelined him. Nevertheless, he bounced back and today stands proudly beside his Two-Gold Taekwondo teammates, accumulating more victories in the sport he loves.

Now, Joseph is preparing to embark on an extraordinary journey across the ocean to compete for gold once again. He will represent the United States at the Virtus Global Games in France. 

"We never expected to compete internationally at a global event outside our country," Erin said.

Despite the challenges they have faced, seeing her son shine brightly on the global stage is the greatest gift for Erin. Joseph's positive attitude and competitive spirit serve as a testament to his remarkable character.

The Virtus Games will kick off on June 4 and run until June 10 in Vichy, France. Joseph will participate in the individual events, which are set to begin next week. The community rallies behind Joseph, cheering him on as he demonstrates the power of determination and perseverance.

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