San Antonio success just icing on the cake

By Jamie M. Blanchard | June 14, 2013, 8 a.m. (ET)

 Jarryd Wallace
Jarryd Wallace won the men's 100 meter (T44) race at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Jarryd Wallace used to be an unknown.

A gold medal in the men’s 100-meter (T44) at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and an appearance at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, changed that.

“After running at the Parapan Am Games and making the Paralympic team, I’m no longer a rookie,” Wallace said. “I have experience so I have a different mindset going forward. Knowing what to expect, and what is possible, it is more exciting for me.”

When the 2013 U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships start today at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, Wallace knows it is possible to make the U.S. world team.

He is a favorite at nationals, which serves as the U.S. qualification opportunity for the 2013 international Paralympic Committee World Championships, July 19-28, in Lyon, France.

“It would be nice to win every event I’m in but my focus is qualifying for worlds,” said Wallace “I want to go to nationals, put a few good races together and earn my spot on the world team.”

The U.S. world team will be announced by June 18.

“Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake,” Wallace said.

Wallace, an able-bodied runner at the University of Georgia who had his right leg amputated below the knee after developing compartment syndrome a few years ago, will race in the 100m, 200m and the relay at nationals.

“I am focusing on the 100 and 200,” he said. “I am not sure if I will race the 400 at worlds.”

He competed in the 400m in London, making the final.

If he makes the team, it would be his first trip to the world championships.

“I am really excited to get down to San Antonio and have the world championship team come together,” Wallace said. “I think Team USA will have a great year. We’re dealing with some injuries across the board but I think that just gives younger athletes an opportunity to step up and fill in the gaps. It is going to be a fun year to watch.”

The year has been fun for Wallace already. At the Desert Challenge in Mesa, Ariz., he topped country mate Blake Leeper, a two-time medalist in London, and qualified for the inaugural International Paralympic Committee Grand Prix Final.

“My goal for the season is to be better than the last time I was out there,” Wallace said.

Wallace also wants to be a part of a medal winning relay team.

In London, Richard Browne, Leeper, Jerome Singleton and Wallace looked to have medaled in the men’s 4x100 meter relay but were disqualified when officials ruled after the race that the U.S. team had infractions in the changeover areas, where runners hand off the batons.

“We’re making sure we’re prepared and we show up to the track ready to execute the race,” Wallace said. “In a relay, there are so many issues that can go wrong. Jumping out of the lane happens. Someone can have a problem with a leg. It is unpredictable. Something happened in London but we put it behind us. We have a great team, we love each other and we love working toward that medal with each other.”

The U.S. relay line-up has not been decided.

 “We’ve got a lot of guys running really well,” Wallace said. “The biggest thing for us is to stay healthy. I am hoping and praying that some of my teammates who are battling injuries can train smart and put together some good races at nationals.”

Both Browne, the silver medalist in the men’s 100m at the Paralympic Games, and Leeper both have struggled with injuries earlier this year.

“It is more exciting when we’re all at our best.”

Wallace hopes his best comes in San Antonio than it is even better in Lyon.

“I know the only thing I can control is my own performance and how I do out there,” he said. “Bettering my performance every time I’m on the track puts me in the position to be at the level I want to be at.”

For more information the 2013 U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships, June 14-16, in San Antonio, including a schedule and results, click here.