Tune in for the the Beijing Paralympics
August 26, 2008
For all of you who enjoyed watching the Beijing Summer Olympics, dont despair that the closing ceremonies have concluded. It aint over yet.The Beijing Summer Paralympics will be held from Sept. 6 through Sept. 17. The competition is just as intense, the athletes just as impressive and the training just as grueling as what occurs in the Olympics. And the Paralympics might even be more inspirational than the Olympics.The Summer Paralympic Games include athletes with mobility impairments, amputees and visual impairments. These athletes compete at an international level in many of the same sports that are represented in the Olympics. They are just done a little differently.Here are some things to watch out for.The U.S. wheelchair rugby team is currently ranked number one in the world and is up for a gold medal. Wheelchair rugby is a contact sport. Its intense and physical, as athletes continually throw themselves at each other. Two Colorado athletes, Jason Regier of Denver and Chance Sumner of Colorado Springs, are members of the U.S. team.Wheelchair basketball is also an intense, contact sport. The U.S. womens team won the gold in Athens and is expected to do well in Beijing. They have recently won the Joseph F. Lyttle World Basketball Challenge and the North American Cup. Another Colorado athlete, Sarah Castle of Centennial, plays on the team.Watch for Alejandro Albor, from California, considered to be one of the top handcyclists in the world. Albor received a silver medal in Athens, only inches behind the gold medalist. Since Athens, he has been racking up first-place finishes in races throughout the world, and he should do well.Rudy Garcia-Tolson, a double amputee from California, won a gold medal in the 200m individual medley in swimming in Athens, and he currently holds the world record.Keep your eye on Joshua George from Virginia. He competes in wheelchair racing in track & field. In 2007 he broke the world record in the 800m. In 2006 he won gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m at the IPC Athletics World Championships.Other Colorado athletes include Allison Jones, born without a right femur, who will compete in cycling and is from Colorado Springs. Matthew Updike from Denver will complete in handcycling. Mike Farrell from Colorado Springs will compete in cycling and received two gold medals in the 2007 National Championships.Robin Theryound and Jen Armbruster, both from Colorado Springs, will be competing in goalball, a ball game played only by the blind. It includes a ball that makes noise when in motion and a court with tactile markings. The U.S. womens goalball team won a silver medal in Athens in 2004.Twelve athletes who are disabled veterans will participate in Beijings Paralympics including Melissa Stockwell, an Iraqi war veteran who is an amputee as a result of a roadside bomb. She is a swimmer and currently holds the American record in the 400m freestyle.Although the Paralympics will be broadcast in Europe, China, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Australia and South Africa, dont expect to see them on television in the U.S. You will, however, be able to see them on http://www.paralympicsport.tv and http://www.youtube.com/ParalympicSportTV.For more background, check out the International Paralympic Committee website at http://www.paralympic.org and Team U.S.A.s website at http://www.paralympics.teamusa.org.Lets keep the cheering going for Team USA.