TORONTO – Just four months after discovering Paralympic track and field, Roderick Townsend (Stockton, California) has raised the bar once again, breaking his own T46/T47 world record by 5 centimeters in the men’s high jump with a mark of 2.12 meters on Thursday at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto.
The 23-year-old the first three heights without a miss. His third clearance, 2.09, improved his world record by 2 cm, he then raised the bar to his gold-medal height of 2.12, which he cleared on his third attempt.
“It's an indescribable feeling, but it's something I definitely always prayed about,” Townsend said. “Thanks to God, I am here now and you never know where your journey is going to take you, but I am happy mine is going in the right direction.”
The crowd at the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium clapped with Townsend as he energized the audience jumping alongside teammate and bronze medalist Jeff Skiba (San Diego, California) and Brazil’s silver medalist Flavio Reitz.
“We have amazing support from the Toronto fans and everyone who came to watch,” Townsend said. “It was a great atmosphere to be in, and I had my training partner/coach Jeff to help me out and it made for a wonderful day.”
Townsend has made leaps and bounds since first being classified at the Desert Challenge Games in Mesa, Arizona May, but he insists this is just the beginning.
“I can’t wait to show the whole Paralympic world what I’m about,” he said.
Chelsea McClammer (Richland, Washington) picked up her sixth career Parapan Am gold medal after separating herself from the pack in the final stretch of the women’s 800 T53 to take the win with a time of 1:58.40, a Parapan Am Games record. Three-time Paralympian Shirley Reilly (Tucson, Arizona) followed three seconds later to grab silver.
“This one’s really important to me because it’s a year out from Rio,” said McClammer, a 2008 Paralympian. “Getting this win and the Parapan record really means a lot.”
After winning the men’s 100 T11 on Tuesday, Paralympian David Brown (St. Louis, Missouri) and guide Jerome Avery (Lemoore, California) took home their second gold medal in Toronto with a win in the 200, clocking in at 22.74.
Gianfranco Iannotta (Garfield, New Jersey) followed Brown’s win with a gold medal performance of his own in the men’s 200 T52, crossing the finish line in 33.40, upgrading his 2011 Parapan Am bronze. His T52 teammate and 2012 Paralympian Raymond Martin (Jersey City, New Jersey) secured his second gold this week with a win in the men’s 400 (57.72).
In one of the more anticipated races of the competition, Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt (New York, New York) teamed up with U.S. Paralympics coach and guide Joaquim Cruz (Taguatinga, Brazil) for the women’s 1500 T11 race. Mosquera-Schmidt and Cruz, a two-time Olympic medalist in the 800, ran to a fourth-place finish (5:20.34) after competing in the 800 T12 semifinal earlier that day.
At his first international meet, Johnnie Williams (Tampa, Florida) came away with the bronze medal in the men’s javelin F56 for his first medal of the Parapan Am Games. The Army veteran threw a 27.32 to represent his nation again on the podium.
“It means everything,” Williams said. “I have been training year round for this. This is my third year training and just to come out here and get in a chair and get strapped in and represent Team USA to the fullest, I feel great.”
Team USA added 11 medals, including five gold, on Wednesday, the fourth day of track and field competition. Read the full list of U.S. medalists below:
- David Brown (St. Louis, Mo.) and guide Jerome Avery (Lemoore, Calif.)—men’s 200 T11
- Gianfranco Iannotta (Garfield, N.J.)—men’s 200 T52
- Raymond Martin (Jersey City, N.J.)—men’s 400 T52
- Chelsea McClammer (Richland, Wash.)—women’s 800 T53
- Roderick Townsend (Stockton, Calif.)—men’s high jump T42/44/47
- Jeremy Campbell (Perryton, Texas)—men’s discus F44
- Shirley Reilly (Tucson, Ariz.)—women’s 800m T53
- Michael Wishnia (Livingston, N.J.)—men’s shot put F57
- David Blair (Eagle Mountain, Utah)—men’s discus F44
- Jeff Skiba (San Diego, Calif.)—men’s high jump T42/44/47
- Johnnie Williams (Tampa, Fla.) – men’s javelin F56
The final day of track and field competition continues Friday, August 14 with livestreaming available courtesy of the IPC. Visit TeamUSA.org/ParapanAm and follow @USParalympics on Twitter for up-to-the minute results, schedules and much more.