Strong Schuble: How determination and the weight room got her here

By Mary Kate Lau | March 23, 2015, 2:13 p.m. (ET)


Jennifer Schuble competes at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

It’s two-and-a-half hours from Jennifer Schuble’s home in Birmingham, Alabama to the Atlanta Velodrome she trains at every weekend. During the week, she trains outside on her bike at night after a full day of work as an engineer in the automotive industry.

All her work on the bike is recorded on a tracking system and sent to her coach, Benjamin Sharp, in Boulder, Colorado. She combines her bike workouts with heavy weight training to keep a strong core and maintain balance on the velodrome.

“I haven’t seen daylight while training in years,” Schuble said. Not even this year’s unpredictable winter weather could keep Schuble from hitting the roads.

It’s a lifestyle that would have many hitting snooze a few too many times in the morning or burning out quickly. Not Schuble. This is her normal.

Schuble’s grit shows up not just in her training schedule but translates to all aspects of her life. Everything Schuble does is strong. She’s mentally strong, physically strong and in the velodrome, she starts strong.

While in high school, she was on a traveling club soccer team with a two-hour commute to practice. After that, she was a three-sport athlete at United States Military Academy at West Point.

 “They like to throw the kitchen sink at you,” Schuble said of West Point. “You have to learn time management because not only are you a student, but an athlete and then you have your military duties.”

It was at West Point that Schuble sustained a traumatic brain injury during a class on hand-to-hand combat. She sustained an additional TBI in a car accident. Then in 2004, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

This led her to the Lakeshore Foundation, a Paralympic training site in Birmingham where she was encouraged to get into cycling, which she did in 2007. At that point, she didn’t even know the Paralympics existed. In 2008, she won a gold medal and set a world record in the 500m time trial at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. While cycling fuels her athletic spirit, it has given her another incredible benefit.

“It’s kept my MS in check and helped me with my stability and balance,” She said. “Most people who look at me can’t even tell there’s anything wrong with me because of how strong I’ve gotten. I don’t think I can ever retire now!”

Every weekend in Atlanta, Schuble is working on her specialty-strong starts. She was always the lead out during track and field in high school. It has led her to be Team USA’s track specialist and also to the unique title of being the only woman on the team sprint.

Up until 2008, the team sprint event was all-male. After the Beijing Games, it became a mixed team sprint. In this case though, mixed does not mean mixed sexes, but merely classes. Teams are not required to include a female in this event. No, Schuble has earned her slot.

She was the first female in the world to compete in team sprint as Team USA was only country to do it. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she was the first woman to medal as a part of team sprint. While it’s an honor, for her it’s never been strange.

“I’m used to being with guys, it’s no problem,” Schuble said. “I respect them, and they respect me because we have one common goal. I am just lucky that I am beating guys because I don’t have to be out there.”

Schuble is in the final taper mode of her training before heading to the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, held March 26-29 in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. Schuble will compete in time trials and pursuit along with the team sprint.

After that she will look to hold on to her time trial and pursuit titles at the Parapan Am Games, Aug. 7-15 in Toronto, Canada.