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Standing at just 4-feet-4, South Carroll senior Zach Shattuck has overcome obstacles his entire life.
From making the freshman basketball team to playing midfield on the Cavaliers' varsity soccer squad, Shattuck has never let dwarfism stop him from reaching athletic success.
Shattuck competed in the 2013 World Dwarf Games from Aug. 3-10 on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, Mich.
Each competitor was placed into one of thee classifications based on body measurements. Participating in the tallest of the three in the 16-over division, Shattuck excelled in a field of about 400 athletes from 16 different countries.
Shattuck collected seven medals - three golds, a silver and three bronzes. Four were individual honors; three as part of a team.
"It completely exceeded my expectations. I expected to go there like nationals and play, but at the World Games there was just an atmosphere like nothing else I've ever experienced," Shattuck said. "People are happy and it was incredible. The competition is great."
Shattuck competed in seven different sports - track, swimming, soccer, boccia, volleyball, floor hockey and basketball - and it was his accomplishments in the pool that shocked him and his parents the most.
Swimming in the 25-meter freestyle, Shattuck finished in 16.49 seconds and while records haven't been documented for the entire history of the games, that time is the fastest recorded giving the 17-year-old a world record.
"He puts it all out there. We didn't know he could swim like that. We couldn't begin to guess the times he would swim," said Shattuck's mother, Teresa. "We've spent time swimming in rivers and things like that, but he's never been on a swim team at all. The last time he swam was at nationals three years before."
Known mostly for his skills on the pitch, Shattuck played with the New York Towers for the World Games and captured bronze with a 6-2 victory over Australia.
In five total games, Shattuck registered 14 goals and capped it off with a three-goal, two-assist performance in the medal round win. It was his first time playing for the Towers, who sought him out and asked him to join the squad.
Teresa said her son's game was at another level because he was playing against athletes his own size and didn't have to worry about compensating for a physical difference as he does when playing high school sports.
Competitive nature is what drove Shattuck to participate in the World Games, but he seems to get more out of it than just hardware.
"It was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life. Every thing that went on was just fantastic," Shattuck said. "Being able to share and being there with other little people was just an experience in itself."
In addition to the 25-freestyle gold, he came away with top honors in the 100-meter freestyle and took third in the 50-meter freestyle.
Outside of the pool, Shattuck was a member of the gold-medal winning volleyball team. He earned silver in basketball, scoring 14 of the team's 26 points in the championship game. He took a track and field bronze in the 200-meter sprint.
Despite the "overwhelming" success, Shattuck said he is only motivated to come back and achieve more.
Like the Olympics, the World Games are held every four years. But the National Games are a yearly event and he looks forward to that competition the next three years.
A week later, Teresa Shattuck was still trying to process the experience and describe the atmosphere of the just-completed World Games and what it meant to her son and the rest of the family.
"I have been trying to wrap my head around why [it] was so moving," she said via email, "and I think it was that the World Dwarf Games struck the perfect balance of having a high level of competition set in an atmosphere of respect, acceptance, and support."

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