Stars shine on final day of U.S. Paralympic Team Trials – Track & Field

By Brianna Tammaro | July 02, 2016, 9:22 a.m. (ET)
Lex Gillette and guide Wes Williams won gold in the men's T11 long jump in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After three days of competition, the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials – Track & Field came to a close Saturday evening as hundreds of athletes left everything on the track at the Irwin Belkin Center at Johnson C. Smith University ahead of selection for the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team.

Lex Gillette gave the crowd a show in his home state, winning the men’s long jump T11/12 on his final attempt with a leap of 6.42-meters. The community support was on full display for the three-time Paralympic medalist who had family and friends travel from his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.

“It was really special being in Charlotte, two hours from where I’m from in Raleigh,” Gillette said. “I had so many special people in that crowd like my family, my coach who first introduced me to Paralympic sport and one of my friends who worked out with me in college…It was really amazing to go out there, jump and hear them screaming. They really deserve all the credit for the things I’m doing now.” 

Mikey Brannigan (East Northport, New York) ran 3:50.05 in a solo effort for the men’s 1500 T20/37/45/46. He was more than 40 seconds from his closest competitor, and ran under his world record mark set at the Triton Invite in April.

Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland), who already qualified for the U.S. team in the marathon, capped off an undefeated run at Trials with wins in the women’s 1500 T53/54 (3:34.84) and 400 T34/51/52/54 (54.40). In the same 400, Cassie Mitchell (Atlanta, Georgia) shaved 11 seconds of the world record set in 1982 in the T51 class for an eighth place finish. This was the second world record in Charlotte for the 2012 Paralympian who rewrote the record books yesterday in the 100 T51/52/34. 

All eyes were on the men’s 100 T44 as Jarryd Wallace (Athens, Georgia) got a strong start out of the blocks to fly through the finish line in 10.71, just one-tenth of a second from the world record set by teammate Richard Browne (Jackson, Mississippi). Blake Leeper (Kingsport, Tennessee) captured silver in 10.98 with Jerome Singleton (Irmo, South Carolina) taking bronze in 11.15.

“The world record is that goal that’s always there in every race, but it’s not something you can focus on,” Wallace said. “It just happens. If you execute the right race at the right time, the time will be there. With how I’m running at practice and how I’m putting things together, it’s in the tank. It’s there, but everything hasn’t come together perfectly in a race yet.”

In the men’s discus F11/37/43/44, David Blair (Eagle Mountain, Utah) continued to impress with a win over second place Jeremy Campbell (Perryton, Texas) and third place Max Rohn (Longmont, Colorado). The world record holder threw 61.82m at his first U.S. Paralympic Trials.

Ray Martin (Jersey City, New Jersey) ran 3:38.75 in the men’s 1500 T52, edging out Steven Toyoji (San Francisco, California). Earlier in the evening session, Martin also took top honors in the 400 T51/52 with a time of 57.62.

The 2016 U.S. Paralympic Track & Field Team will be officially named in a public announcement taking place on Sunday, July 3 at 11 a.m. at Romare Bearden Park. The celebration is free and open to the public.

For complete results from the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials – Track & Field, visit USParalympics.org/2016TeamTrials.

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.