Forty-three athletes who are blind and visually impaired competed at the International Blind Sports Association World Championships and Games, August 1-12 in Quebec City. These athletes, competing in six sports (goalball, powerlifting, judo, swimming, track and field, and tandem cycling), represented the United States well, claiming 32 medals, including 13 gold. More importantly, however, team members in judo and goalball qualified valuable slots for the Athens Paralympic Games.
The U.S. Men's Goalball Team rose to the challenge of having only one final chance to qualify for Athens, going undefeated in pool play, and progressing to the final game where they won a silver medal after a 3-5 loss to Spain. According to Head Coach John Bakos, "Spain was definitely the best competition we could have had here. They've got lots of throwing power and we knew that going into it. Our guys put their hearts out their on that court. It was a good game, and they looked like champs out there."
All seven members of the U.S. Judo Team also qualified slots in their respective weight categories for the Athens Games, with Kevin Szott (100 kg) and Lori Pierce (70 kg) winning gold and bronze medals, respectively. "It's always harder to stay on top than to get there, and I know I'm a target right now," Szott said. "It'll be a long hard year, but I'm going to train hard for Athens."
Szott and Scott Moore, both gold medalists at the Sydney Paralympic Games, led a team of newcomers to the international scene. "There are no more rookies on this team, and we now know what it is going to take to win the gold at the Paralympics," Szott said.
Sprinter Royal Mitchell was the most decorated member of the U.S. Track and Field Team, winning both the B3 (best corrected vision 20/200-20/599) 200 m and 400 m. Mitchell, who set a new World Record in the 200 m, also won a bronze in the 100 m.
Middle distance runner Pam McGonigle won silver medals in the B2 (best corrected vision 20/600 and less) 800 m and 1500 m. At the same time discus thrower Asya Miller took a bronze in the combined B1 (totally blind) B3 event.
Stoker Karissa Whitsell and pilot Katie Compton led the U.S. Cycling Team to six total medals, with gold medals in the match sprint and pursuit and silver medals in the kilo and the road race. Not only did the Cycling Team win, but the U.S. Men's 4 x 400 relay team of Nelacey Porter, Trent Blair, Josiah Jamison, and Joe Aukward won a silver medal. Although small in numbers, this five-member swim team still collected eight medals, including three by 17-year-old Tiffanie Wright.
For most athletes, competing in their first international meet gave them a chance to get their feet wet, scope out the other swimmers, and have a good experience. Unlike most swimmers, Wright not only tested the waters, but started collecting hardware, including silver medals in the B3 200 m freestyle and 200 m backstroke and a bronze medal in the 50 m free.
Thirty-year-old Jennifer Butcher, a bronze medalist at the Sydney Games, returned to the World Championships after a brief retirement to win silver medals in the B3 50 m free and 100 m back. Quite an accomplishment, especially having to retrain to get the retired body up to speed in order to compete with the numbers of younger, highly skilled competitors out there.
The U.S. Powerlifting Team also proved to be a force to be reckoned with. They earned eight gold medals and set a total of 14 new world records in the process!
"Athletes collect medals at World Championships." Palaestra 19.4 (2003): 14. Academic OneFile. Web. 29 Oct. 2009.
Gale Document Number:A111462404
Disclaimer:This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.
United States Judo Association - USJA
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