10th-grade wrestler: Opponent with Down syndrome 'deserves to win'

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Like other athletes, Ryleigh Bure of Albert Lea wants to win. But when he learned his opponent in an exhibition last weekend was a wrestler with Down syndrome who had never won a match, Ryleigh came up with a new plan.

The 10th grader tells KAAL: "Everyone deserves to win. I know what it feels like and he hasn't had a win yet, so I thought he deserved to feel what it felt like to win."

Without revealing his plan, Ryleigh made sure his mother was videotaping the match. And he tells the station that he tried to make his opponent, whose name is Kyle, work for the victory.

As the match unfolded and Kyle was holding his own, the competition drew attention from more of the spectators at the busy tournament in St. Cloud. KAAL spoke with Danielle Bure, who said of her son: "He was smiling at Kyle and was kind of like 'C'mon, let's do this.' I even had to start rooting for Kyle."

Ryleigh finished second in that match but left the mat feeling like a winner, he tells the station.

Something similar occurred last year during a high school wrestling tournament in Georgia. In that case, the student with Down syndrome was considered a member of the team but had never actually wrestled a match until the exhibition during the tournament, according to KSDK-TV.

Athletes with Down syndrome have found success in sports including weightlifting. Last summer the News Journal profiled a 31-year-old powerlifting champion from Newark, Delaware, who won Special Olympics titles before branching out into open competitions.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that limits physical and mental development. More background is available through the National Institutes of Health and the National Down Syndrome Society.

As for Ryleigh Bure, KAAL reports he was victorious in two of his three other matches in last weekend's tournament.

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