Countdown to Lyon: Seven U.S. athletes to watch
Cue The Star-Spangled Banner.
At the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Athletes World Championships, July 19-28, in Lyon, France, the United States will have 76 athletes in position to medal in more than 100 events.
The world team is highlighted by 23 men and 11 women who competed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, including gold medalist Jeremy Campbell, four-time gold medalist Raymond Martin, three-time gold medalist Tatyana McFadden and gold medalist Shirley Reilly. Of the 18 Team USA athletes who combined for 28 medals at the Paralympic Games, 15 are on the world team.
Paralympic bronze medalist David Prince, who set world records in the men’s 200 and 400-meters (T44) at the 2013 U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships, and Cassie Mitchell, who set a world record in the women’s F52 shot put, are among the top contenders for medals in Lyon.
While Team USA has incredible talent, including 10 veterans and two active duty service members, the IPC has singled out seven U.S. athletes for the “Ones to Watch” list, which includes 35 athletes from around the world who are expect to be on top in Lyon.
With seven days until the start of the competitions on July 20, meet the seven “Ones to Watch” for Team USA.
Very few people had heard of American sprinter Richard Browne until the London 2012 Paralympic Games when he came out of nowhere, easily defeating heralded teammates Blake Leeper and Jerome Singleton, to claim silver in the 100m T44 behind Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock. Now he is one of the stars of Paralympic track and field. In June, Browne unofficially tied the 10.85 world record held by Peacock in the 100m at an unsanctioned race in Montverde, Fla., although he was injured. The injury got the best of him at the 2013 U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships in San Antonio, Texas, as he walked across the finish line. Browne looks to be back on track in Lyon. He’s ranked No. 2 in the world behind Peacock.
Jeremy Campbell made history in April 2012 when he became the first Paralympic athlete to throw the discus over 60m. His throw of 60.19m at the Triton Invitational in California sent out a clear message to his rivals ahead of London 2012 that he was determined to retain the Paralympic title he had won in Beijing in 2008. In June 2012, he extended the record further throwing 63.46m at the Endeavor Games in Edmond, Okla. In London, Campbell once again threw over 60m, this time landing 60.05m, to retain his Paralympic title. With two Paralympic discus titles to his credit, Campbell looks to win his first ever world title in Lyon. He was second in 2011.
In July 2006, April Holmes became the first single leg amputee to run the 100m in under 13 seconds (12.98), a feat no-one has repeated since. A train accident in 2001 saw her lose her lower left leg, but amazingly three years later she was competing at her first Paralympic Games in Athens. Holmes won a bronze medal in the long jump (F44/46) at those Games. She won a gold medal in the women’s 100m (T44) at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and a bronze in the same event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. A three-time medalist at the IPC Athletics World Championships, including gold medals in the 100m and 200m in 2006, Holmes will compete in the 100m and 200m in Lyon.
Until last month, Blake Leeper held the world record in the men’s 100m T43, making history in July 2012 by equaling the 100m T43 world record of 10.91 set originally by South African Oscar Pistorius in April 2007. However, the shared mark was bested by Alan Oliveira of Brazil when he ran a 10.77 in Berlin, Germany, on June 15. Leeper hopes to regain the world record in Lyon. He will also compete in the 200m and the 400m, events that produced medals for him at the 2012 Paralympic Games, and the men's 4x100m T42-46 relay.
Few teenagers can claim they have competed in front of 80,000 people at a Paralympic Games. Only one, however, can say he did that while winning four gold medals. Raymond Martin, the United States Olympic Committee’s 2012 Paralympic SportsMan of the Year, was on the top of the podium in the men’s 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m T52 in London. In Lyon, which marks his first world championship appearance, he hopes to remain on top of the podium. He is also adding the 1500m to his program.
Tatyana McFadden will be playing defense at the 2013 IPC Athletes World Championships, hoping to keep her world title in the women’s 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500 T54 races. Currently ranked No. 1 in the world in the 200m and 400m, she is also the Paralympic gold medalist in 400m, 800m and 1500m. In total, McFadden could leave Lyon with seven medals (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m and the women’s 4x400m T53/54 relay).
After becoming the first man to beat South African Oscar Pistorius in seven years over 100m at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships, Singleton was poised for a medal haul at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He did not make the podium. Singleton is ready to regain his top ranking. At the 2013 U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships, he won the men’s 100m T44 race, running the fourth fastest race of the season. Singleton also plans to race in the 200m, where he also ranks fourth, and the men's 4x100m T42-46 relay.