BEIJING, China - Bruised and battered U.S. wheelchair racer Cheri Blauwet (Palo Alto, Calif.) convincingly says she's fine to re-race the women's 5000m (T54) this Friday. Tonight, she and teammates Amanda McGrory (Champaign, Ill.) and Shirley Reilly (Tucson, Ariz.) competed in the event until a horrific crash altered the course of the race so much so, that not only were two athletes carted away by ambulance, but all final results were disqualified.
Spectator cheers quickly turned to gasps after wheelchair racer Edith Hunkeler from Switzerland, who appeared to have missed a turn, collided with other racers on the track. Blauwet, who was in position behind Hunkeler, took a nasty spill, scraping her head, arms and shoulder.
"That's what makes this sport so unexpected and exciting," said Blauwet. "You hope to be on the other side of the crash, but tonight I wasn't. I am concerned about the other girls and hope that they're all okay."
Only five of the 11 athletes who began the women's 5000m finished. In third position was world record holder in the event, Amanda McGrory, with a time of 11:54.84. U.S. teammate Shirley Reilly came in fifth at 12:40.11.
While McGrory was initially awarded the bronze, further review of race footage by officials led them to throw out all results from the competition. All three U.S. racers will give it a second shot on Friday - time still to be determined.
In the field, Ed Cockrell (New Athens, Ill.), silver medalist from the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, finished sixth in the shot put with 916 points and best throw of 14.67. Cockrell, who was emotional after his competition, expressed his disappointment.
"I came in to this well-trained, well-coached and ready to go," said Cockrell. "I just didn't come through in the end. These guys [competitors] are so talented and they just really pulled through tonight."
Below is a quick glance at what's on tap at the track tomorrow, Tuesday, September 9.
9:10 Men's 5000m (T12/13)/prelim - Peter Gottwald (West Chester, Pa.)
10:25 Men's 100m (T12)/semifinal - Josiah Jamison (Chula Vista, Calif./Vance, S.C.)
12:26 Women's 100m (T54)/prelim - Jennifer Goeckel (Seattle, Wash.), Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.)
17:15 Men's 400m (T12/13)/prelim - Royal Mitchell (Chula Vista, Calif./Ridgeland, S.C.)
18:12 Men's 100m (T44)/final - Brian Frasure (Apex, N.C.), Marlon Shirley (Chula Vista, Calif./Tremonton, Utah), Jerome Singleton (Irmo, S.C.)
18:25 Women's 200m (T44)/final - April Holmes (Chula Vista, Calif./Somerdale, N.J.)
19:30 Women's 400m (T53)/prelim - Jessica Galli (Savoy, Ill./Hillsborough, N.J.), Anjali Forber-Pratt (Needham, Mass.), Cheri Blauwet (Palo Alto, Calif.)
20:30 Men's 400m (T53)/prelim - Adam Bleakney (Champaign, Ill.), Joshua George (Champaign, Ill.)
21:00 Men's 400m (T54)/semifinal - Erik Hightower (Glendale, Ariz.)
For complete track & field competition results, visit http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRMP/ENG/Schedule/AT.shtml.
For more information or to arrange an athlete interview, please contact Beth Bourgeois at 139-1075-4847 (if calling from the U.S., dial 011 86 plus the local number).