Arizona Adaptive Athletics track and road racing athletes prepare for Paralympics
The adaptive athletics program at UA offers wheelchair track, rugby, tennis, basketball and even a sport for the blind called goalball.
Of the many different adaptive programs, wheelchair track & road racing, established in 1997, has developed paralympians and others who have experienced international racing. The team competes in events from the Jim Click’s Run ‘N’ Roll, an on-campus fundraiser for Adaptive Athletics, all the way up to the Paralympic Games.
This October, two athletes from the wheelchair racing team will be competing in the Doha 2015 International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships. October is also a big month with the Olympic marathon qualifier for Rio, which will be held on Oct. 11.
The respective classifications for the championships are T51, T52, T53 and T54. Events are generally separated by classifications. Both competing athletes are classified as T53. The T53 classification is a lower paraplegic disability. Individuals with this disability do not have significant functioning in their core and back muscles compared to other classifications, such as a T54.
A standout, Shirley Reilly, is a three-time Olympic medalist. She competed in the 2012 London Olympics, earning silver in the 5,000 meter, bronze in the 1,500 meter and gold in the London Marathon. She also won the gold medal in the 2012 Boston Marathon.
Reilly will also be competing in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11 to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Marathon.
“I’m excited and nervous,” Reilly said. “It’s a pretty nerve wracking event for all of the athletes. Only [the] top two athletes from Team USA make the team for Rio. Track is basically my life. I revolve everything around it. I travel the world, receive new sponsors and experience new things.”
October will be a big month for Reilly as she prepares by training six days a week, eating healthy and being diligent with recovery.
Another competitor in the IPC Athletics World Championships is Arturo Torres. Torres has experience competing in the Junior World Championships and at the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Canada.
Torres will be competing in the 100 meter and 200 meter in Doha.
“I am ecstatic to be able to compete for the United States pride,” Torres said. “I have been working towards representing the United States since I started racing at the age of six, and its great to see my years of hard work finally pay off.”
Torres constantly thinks about the opportunity that she has been given and the chance to compete at the ultimate level.
“I feel that I’m well prepared for the competition, I think the nerves won’t kick in until my trip to Doha begins, but it is definitely constantly on my mind,” Torres said.
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