Charlotte, N.C. - The 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials - Track & Field were in full gear on the opening day of competition on June 30 at the Irwin Belk Complex at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, highlighted by a world record from one of Team USA’s emerging stars.
In the women’s 800-meter T34/53, Paralympic newcomer Alexa Halko (Williamsburg, Virginia) broke her own T34 world record by just under a second with a time of 2:01.83 to claim third place in the combined field. It was a tight race for first as Chelsea McClammer (Benton City, Washington) captured the win by two-tenths of a second over Shirley Reilly (Los Gatos, California) to finish 1:54.46.
“It feels great right now, but I’m still pretty shocked,” 19-year-old Halko said. “It just has to sink in a little bit. Hopefully I’ll have the same success in the next two days. I’ve been dreaming about making the Paralympic team since I was around seven so it would be amazing if it actually happened at the end of this.”
In the men's 800 T52/53, Brian Siemann (Savoy, Illinois) edged Josh George (Herndon, Virginia) by just over a tenth of a second to take gold with a time of 1:40.00. Spencer Kimbro (Moses Lake, Washington) finished third in 1:50.68. George, who’s already qualified for the U.S. Paralympic team in the marathon, got the best of Siemann in the 5,000 T53/54, clocking 10:45.49 for the win.
Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland) went two-for-two in the opening day of competition, winning the women’s 800 T54 (1:48.58) and 5000 53/54 (11:38.93). The 11-time Paralympic medalist will compete in three other events at trials, including Friday’s 100 T54 race.
An hour after finding out she had been named to the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team, Alyssa Seely (Phoenix, Arizona) cruised to a victory in the women’s 200 T35/36, finishing nearly three seconds past her closest competitor with a time of 32.54. Suzanne Arenal (Corona Del Mar, California) and Aubrey Headon (Rochelle, Illinois) placed second and third, respectively.
“It was a great day in Charlotte,” Seely said. “It was really exciting [to know I had been named to the team] and gave me that extra push; but also knowing I already punched my ticket to Rio in Paratriathlon, it took some of the stress off today which I really think helped me perform my best.”
Three-time Paralympian April Holmes (Kissimmee, Florida), the veteran in the field, showcased her experience in the women’s 200 T43/44, winning the race in 28.29 seconds over second place Femita Ayanbeku (Whitman, Massachusetts) and third place Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio).
Full results can be found at USParalympics.org/2016TeamTrials. Events will resume until July 2 as over 200 U.S. athletes compete to make the U.S. Paralympic Track & Field Team for the 2016 Paralympic Games.
The 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials – Swimming and Track & Field are being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, June 30 – July 2, and are hosted by Partners for Parks. Thanks to support from The Coca-Cola Company, BP, and Deloitte, the multi-sport Trials feature more than 400 athletes who are competing for a chance to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit USParalympics.org/2016TeamTrials.