Drake Relays welcome Paralympic athletes for second year

By Brianna Tammaro | April 29, 2016, 11:48 a.m. (ET)
Roderick Townsend competes in the men's high jump T47 final during the evening session on day eight of the IPC Athletics World Championships at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium on Oct. 29, 2015 in Doha, Qatar.

Paralympic athletes will line up under the lights Friday evening as they make their return for the 107th Drake Relays. The annual meet attracts the nation’s best track and field stars and will feature a Paralympic 200-meter race for just the second year after its historic debut in 2015.

David Brown (St. Louis, Missouri) and Jerome Avery (Lemoore, California), who own the world record in the event for the T11 class, highlight a field that uniquely pits amputee and visually-impaired sprinters head-to-head in the race.

“Drake Relays is one of the few meets we go to where, in my case, I have the opportunity to compete against amputee athletes,” Brown said. “It gives me the opportunity to go up against other high-caliber athletes and be able to compete at a good, high level.”

At 8:08 p.m., Brown and Avery will face off against up-and-coming single-leg and double-leg amputees: Trenten Merrill (San Juan Capistrano, California), Nick Rogers (Lisbon, Maine), Paul Peterson (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Kenya’s Marko Cheseto.

Roderick Townsend (Stockton, California), the IPC world champion, will make his Drake debut against the top elite jumpers in the world, including 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and defending IAAF world champion Derek Drouin, in the men’s Rio Olympic Games Preview high jump Friday at 6 p.m.

“I don’t have a Paralympic group to jump with so it’s just really nice to be able to show everyone that us Paralympic athletes can do things just as well as everybody else can,” Townsend said.

Tune into the live stream from USATF.TV and NBC Sports Network’s coverage on Saturday from NBC Sports Network at 3-5 p.m. ET. For more information on the 2016 Drake Relays, visit the event website