The first major competition of the season for Team USA kicked off in Tempe, Arizona from May 24-25 with a series of U.S. champions being crowned at the Desert Challenge Games. The event also serves as the only World Para Athletics Grand Prix in the United States and brings together some of the top U.S. and international stars in Paralympic track and field.
Leading the way for Team USA was Deja Young (Mesquite, Texas) and Jaleen Roberts (Kent, Washington), who captured three wins at Sun Angel Stadium. Young added a new event to her repertoire in the women’s 400-meter T46, in addition to victories in her Paralympic title events: the 100 and 200. Roberts, a three-time world championship medalist, came away with gold medals in the 100, 200 and long jump for the women’s T37 class.
Paralympic and world champion David Brown (St. Louis, Missouri) also successfully debuted a new event in Arizona, winning the men’s long jump T11 in addition to his signature event, the 100 with guide Jerome Avery (Lemoore, California).
Several other U.S. national team athletes won multiple events this weekend: Nick Rogers (Bingham, Maine) in the men’s 100 and 400 T64, Richard Browne (Jackson, Mississippi) in the men’s long jump and 20 T64, Cheri Madsen (Union, Nebraska) in the women’s 100 and 400 T54, and Desmond Jackson (Durham, North Carolina) in the men’s 100 and long jump T63.
Paralympians Kym Crosby (Yuba City, California), Alexa Halko (Williamsburg, Virginia), and Emily Frederick (Gadsden, Alabama) were also victorious this weekend. Crosby won gold in the women’s 100 and 400 T13, while Halko won the women’s 100 and 800 T34 and Frederick posted top distances in the women’s shot put and discus F40. Paralympic hopeful Beatriz Hatz had a dominant performance in Arizona with a trio of wins in the women’s 100, 200, and long jump T64 for the 17-19 age group.
The U.S. will send a small team to compete at the next grand prix in Grosseto, Italy from June 8-9 before a series of major events with the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, world championships in Dubai, UAE and junior world championships in Nottwil, Switzerland.
Full results from the 2019 Desert Challenge Games can be found here.