2010 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships draw to a close
Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.) continued her dominant run in the wheelchair racing division, claiming her fourth win of the weekend by taking the top spot in the women's 400m (T54) with a time of 55.54.
McFadden had an opportunity to get five wins in five events, but was narrowly edged out in the women's 1500m (T54) by Great Britain's Shelley Woods. Woods crossed the line in 3:49.19 with McFadden less than three-tenths of a second behind in 3:49.41.
"I think this weekend went great," said McFadden. "We've been training twice a day to prepare and that training really paid off. I am also fortunate enough to train with great teammates who push me and make me faster, so that definitely had a positive impact on my racing."
In the men's T54 category, Jordan Bird (Tucson, Ariz.) emerged as the man to beat, winning both the 400m and 1500m races. Bird clocked a 48.94 in the 400m and a 3:15.29 in the 1500m.
Wheelchair racer Joshua George (Fairfax, Va.) also looked strong for the U.S., winning his 400m race (T53) by nearly two seconds (52.50) and taking third place in a combined T53/54 1500m event with a time of 3:16.83.
Anjali Forber-Pratt (Natick, Mass.) capped off a great weekend of racing with a win in the women's 400m (T53) by holding off teammate Amanda McGrory (Kennett Square, Pa.) at the finish. Forber-Pratt crossed in 58.38 and McGrory was right behind in 58.50. A third place finish by Jessica Galli (Savoy, Ill.), in a time of 58.84, gave the University of Illinois a sweep in that event.
A rising star among the amputee runners, Blake Leeper (Church Hill, Tenn.) ran a personal best time in the 100m (T43) on Saturday, then came back on the final day of competition to take second place in the combined T43/44 400m race (58.28) and help Team USA with a strong showing in the 4 x 100m relay.
Leeper was joined by Jim Bob Bizzell (Odessa, Texas), David Prince (Norcross, Ga.) and Brandon Pelletier (San Antonio, Texas) in running a time of 46.03 in the 4x100m, which put the U.S. in second behind a blazing fast team from Brazil that hit the line in 43.19.
"The heat was a big factor all weekend," said Leeper. "My energy was down, but this was my best competition so far of my career. It was fun to finish off with the relay and now I'll head home to start preparing for world championships since we've got exactly seven months to get ready for that meet."
Prince was the winner in the 400m (T43/44) with a time of 54.75, followed by Leeper and Daniel Rizzieri (Cohocton, N.Y.) in third at 58.56.
Pelletier was the top American finisher in the men's 400m (T46) with a time of 56.92, while Markeith Price (Baltimore, Md.) won the T13 (visually impaired) category in 51.69.
The 2010 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field Championships is the premiere annual track & field event for athletes with physical & visual disabilities in the United States. This year's event also served as a qualifier for the 2011 International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships, which will be held in Christchurch, New Zealand next January.
Complete results and additional event information can be found at http://www.usparalympics.org/2010trackandfieldnationalchampionships.