National Wheelchair Racing Summit leads renewed U.S. Paralympic education program

By Katie Branham | Jan. 31, 2014, 1:36 p.m. (ET)
Shirley Reilly (No. 3) and Amanda McGrory (No. 2) at the start of the women's T54 5,000-meter final at the 2012 Paralympic Games.

COLORADO SPRINGS – More than 60 coaches will gather at the 2014 National Wheelchair Racing Summit in Champaign, Ill. this weekend for educational sessions that will help to develop the athlete pipeline and continued competitive success of Team USA at an international level. The event is co-hosted by the University of Illinois and U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee.

“The attendance far exceeded my expectations, and the benefits to Team USA from this summit will reach 2016 and beyond,” said Cathy Sellers, high performance director for U.S. Paralympics track & field. “The goal is that we will stimulate discussion and action in wheelchair racing that will aid the development of our current and future Paralympians. Coaches will either learn or confirm knowledge, both are extremely valuable.”

The University of Illinois is home to one of the most dominant wheelchair racing programs in the world, and has recently been named a Paralympic Training Site by the USOC. The University of Illinois has produced current wheelchair racing standouts including 10-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden and four-time Paralympic medalist Raymond Martin, as well as retired legends like five-time Paralympic medalist Scot Hollenbeck.

Speakers at the symposium will include experts from a wide variety of backgrounds with expertise in nutrition, coaching, biomechanics, psychology and equipment manufacturing. More than 15 hours of instruction will be offered to attendees, with topics ranging from racing tactics and psychology to strength training and video analysis.

Content from the summit will be recorded for future use, and those videos will be available on the USOC Mobile Coaching App, a free service of the USOC coaching division.

The Wheelchair Racing Summit represents the first of many education opportunities that will help Team USA to reach the podium at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and beyond.

“The Wheelchair Track Symposium is a great example of how the USOC, in alignment with our organizational goals, will collaborate with strategic partners to deliver content in the areas of high performance, talent identification, coaching and revenue generation.” said USOC Chief of Paralympics Charlie Huebner. 

While most opportunities will be focused by sport or region, others will bring together coaches and leaders from multiple sports and areas to offer opportunities for collaboration.

“Our goal is to deliver the Paralympic National Leadership Conference once a quadrennium to celebrate Paralympic success nationally while enhancing Paralympic education opportunities annually via regional training and webinars, and targeted programs like the Wheelchair Track Symposium that align with our organizational goals," Huebner said.

More information on upcoming education opportunities can be found at