West Milford NJ teen goes viral with dramatic win at Special Olympics

Michael McCloskey, 17, of West Milford (left) congratulates 18-year-old Nolan Wendt of Arizona after McCloskey edged Wendt to win the 1,500 meters at the Special Olympics USA Games on June 7, 2022.

At the last practice before Michael McCloskey left for the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, Florida, he told West Milford coach Kristi Clave he’d make her proud.

Not long after crossing the finish line to win his 1,500 meters on Tuesday, McCloskey put his forehead up to Clave’s and repeated, “I told you this would happen. Would I ever lie to you?”

McCloskey needed a big push over the final 200 meters, a move called “quarter paces.” He ran a steady pace for the first three laps, then had extra energy to surge past Nolan Wendt of Arizona on the outside.

That surge made waves all over social media on Tuesday. The video was tweeted out by ESPN, and amassed more than 2,000 “likes” in the first 12 hours.