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Published February 16, 2013, 06:15 PM

Local athlete becomes a celebrity after winning gold at Special Olympics

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) -- Grand Forks native Tommy Mikkelson has a lot to celebrate since competing in the Special Olympics in South Korea.

By: Kayla Strayer, WDAZ, WDAY

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) -- Grand Forks native Tommy Mikkelson has a lot to celebrate since competing in the Special Olympics in South Korea.

Mikkelson won gold, and bronze medals while overseas, turning him into a local celebrity.

Meet the newly crowned gold medalist...

Tommy: "I'm Tommy Mikkelson."

What was it like to win the gold?

"It's exciting."

While there's glory in winning...

Jolene Mikkelson/MOM: "We get back to Grand Forks and he's like a movie star everywhere. I feel like his bodyguard."

Getting to this point wasn't easy.

Tommy: "Work really hard and train every day."

Jolene: "Because it's all so much fun he doesn't even think of it as work. But yes he is training and he works out many hours every week."

The president of the Special Olympics in North Dakota says the athletes take their training seriously.

Kathy Meagher/North Dakota Special Olympics: "Coming home with some gold and bronze medals, that's a tremendous accomplishment regardless if a person has an intellectual disability or not."

What's your favorite event to compete in?

"Probably Alpine."

The skiing?

"Ya and basketball."

Tommy's mom says his life forever changed when he joined the Special Olympics as an energetic seventh grader.

Jolene: "He is an athlete and that's what he wants to do. And so it gave him an even playing field."

Kathy: "People are recognizing that athletes with intellectual disabilities want the same treatment."

The future looks bright, and busy, for this young star...

Tommy: "My future plans is I want to try to go to Princeton New Jersey for the next national games in 2014."

Tommy also celebrated his 22nd birthday while in South Korea.

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