Goal: Compete In Both Paralympic And Olympic Games In Rio
Paralympic Silver Medalist Myles Porter will be fighting in the fully-sighted division at USA Judo’s Senior National Championships next week and the Pan American Championships soon after. His ultimate goal? To compete at both the Paralympic Games AND the Olympic Games in the same year … that would be Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“I want to go to the Olympics,” said Porter. “I want to go to the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year.”
Few athletes from any country have made it to both in any sport. Among them was American runner Marla Runyan. She took four gold medals at the 1992 Paralympic Games and one gold and a silver (in shot put) at the 1996 Paralympic Games. She went on to compete at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
Judo athlete Jorge Lencina of Argentina, has competed in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games but apparently not in the same year. Another judo athlete, Oleg Kretsul of Moldova, fought at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, 1996, but lost his sight in an auto accident and went on to medal at the Paralympic Games, including a gold in Beijing in 2008.
Judo, which relies on senses of momentum and balance in addition to strength and stamina, requires little modification for athletes with visual impairments. In fact, elite players will sometimes train with blindfolds to help tune their other senses on the mat.
Judo has been an event in the Paralympic Games since 1988 in Seoul. Visual impairments are the only disability in Paralympic judo competition.
Porter is legally blind with ocular albinism. What he sees at 1 foot is similar in detail to what most see at 10 feet. The detail he sees at 7 or 10 yards is what most people would see from 100 yards.
“The biggest difference,” Porter said, “is in gripping. In Paralympic competition, we start with a grip and work from there.” Competitors begin the match with their grips firmly in place on their opponents gi, then the referee signals them to begin.
“In sighted competition, grips are 90% of the match,” getting the grips and making them work, said Porter.
Porter recently competed in fully-sighted divisions at two Pan American Opens. He went 1-2 matches to finish fifth in Uruguay and 2-2 to finish fifth in Argentina.
“I'm on the right path,” Porter said. “I just need to fight more and get my hands on these guys from all over the world and feel the different styles to be more comfortable.”
Heading into the USA Judo Senior National Championships, April 13 – 14, in Virginia Beach, VA, Porter will be defending his position as No. 1 at under 100 kg on the national roster in both the Paralympic and Fully-sighted divisions.