Paralympic athletes return for April track and field events

By Brianna Tammaro | April 08, 2016, 6:32 p.m. (ET)
Tatyana McFadden crosses the finish line at the 2015 Boston Marathon to win her third straight victory on Boylston Street on April 20, 2015.

With the welcoming of the spring season comes the beginning of another season for Paralympic track and field athletes. April will mark the return to racing for many athletes with some of the top national and international events on the competition calendar just five months until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Before the season stars on Saturday, find out where the Road to Rio will stop for Team USA track and field stars:

Pomona-Pitzer Track and Field Invitational | April 9

In one of the first major meets since October’s IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, Paralympic athletes will gather at Pomona College’s Strehle Track to put their training to the test. Claremont, California will host hundreds of the nation’s best collegiate and elite athletes, including nearly twenty Paralympic runners and throwers. Athletes will compete against able-bodied runners in open running races, including the men’s 200-meter that will see the return of David Brown (St. Louis, Missouri) and guide Jerome Avery (Lamoore, California), Regas Woods (Ocala, Florida) and Jerome Singleton (Greenwood, South Carolina). In the women’s sprints, Megan Absten (Burlington, Washington) and Katie Walker (San Diego, California) will represent Team USA in the 100 and 200, respectively. The meet will have Paralympic throwing events with David Blair, a world championship bronze medalist in the discus, (Eagle Mountain, Utah) leading the field.

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Mt. SAC Relays | April 14-16

The second track and field event of the 2016 season will feature a strong field of national team athletes and 2015 world championship team members competing in Walnut, California. The event, which moves from the historic Hilmer Lodge Stadium to the temporary location of Cerritos College, will contest the men’s 100 and 200 visually impaired races as well as both men’s and women’s ambulatory races for the 100 and 200. Fans can look forward to a faceoff between Paralympians Lex Gillette (Raleigh, North Carolina) and guide Wes Williams (Visalia, California) and Team BrAvery—Brown and Avery—in the 100. Many of the T42-T44 sprinters will make their way from Claremont to Walnut to compete in the 100 and 200 as well as some fresh faces, including Hunter Woodhall (Syracuse, Utah), David Prince (Venice, Florida) and Desmond Jackson (Durham, North Carolina). Look out for world champion Roderick Townsend (Stockton, California) in the high jump on April 16.

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Boston Marathon | April 18

This month will mark the 120th edition of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon and one of the most prestigious road racing events. The push rim wheelchair, which debuted in 1975, will showcase a dominant U.S. pool. Headlining the group is Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland) who will aim for a fourth-consecutive Boston victory after winning the 2015 marathon in 1:52.54. Her last marathon title came in October when she punched her ticket to Rio at the Chicago Marathon, which also served as the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials for Marathon. Joining McFadden on the road will be Josh George (Herndon, Virginia), Aaron Pike (Park Rapids, Minnesota), Brian Siemann (Millstone, New Jersey), Susannah Scaroni (Tekoa, Washington), Amanda McGrory (Kennett Square, Pennsylvania), Shirley Reilly (Los Gatos, California) and Chelsea McClammer (Benton City, Washington).

Watch LIVE: NBC Sports Network, April 18 from 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. ET

London Marathon | April 24

Less than a week after crossing the finish line in Boston, McFadden, George, Pike, Siemann, Scaroni, McGrory, McClammer and Raymond Martin (Jersey City, New Jersey) will travel across the pond for the London Marathon in Great Britain. The University of Illinois group will take on the top marathon wheelchair racers across the world after earning world titles at the event just a year ago when it served as the IPC Athletics Marathon World Championships. This year, the event doubles as a IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup and can help athletes earn team quota spots for Rio.

Drake Relays | April 27-30

The Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa continues to make history with the addition of Paralympic events at the blue oval. In 2015, the program included the first Paralympic ambulatory race with the men’s 200 where visually impaired and amputee athletes raced head-to-head in a unique contest. An all-star lineup will stand side-by-side at the starting line for this year’s race with Brown and Avery, Singleton and world champion and world record holder Richard Browne (Jackson, Mississippi) making their return. In 2016, it’s the 400m wheelchair race that will make its debut. Also at the 107th edition of the relays, the 800m wheelchair event will be contested for the first time since 2012.

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