Daniel Romanchuk competes in wheelchair racing at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Short on competitions during this highly unusual year, members of the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Team continued to train and stayed quite active on social media. Here’s a representative sample of what they were up to in 2020.
Very few forms of competition took place in 2020, well, official competition at least. Athletes got creative to stay active, notably a pair of wheelchair racers who wouldn’t let the pandemic spoil their year.
As Susannah Scaroni acknowledged, the plains of Illinois don’t do much to replicate scenes of New York City. But the miles are the same no matter where you run them, and Scaroni ran her own New York City Marathon among the corn fields this year.
“We made it through the boroughs of (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois) for the virtual #TCSNYCMarathon this morning,” Scaroni wrote. “While it didn’t look like Central Park at the end, it did feel just as painful.”
Fellow national teamer Daniel Romanchuk also lives and trains in Champaign-Urbana. And he ran not only the New York City Marathon — with an Amish buggy providing a reminder of a Central Park handsome cab — but also ran a virtual Chicago Marathon earlier on October. Romanchuk drew the attention of an Amish family who asked him to speak to a room of schoolchildren. It was far from a typical marathon experience, but a memorable one, as Romanchuk said:
“I don't have any photos at the school as phones aren't allowed, but here's one from sunrise this morning — you never know what today will hold!”
While Scaroni got creative to find her own form of competition, like many other athletes she had to get creative with her workouts too. Doing stairs isn’t easy in a house that is wheelchair accessible, but Scaroni made do with what she had.
There’s workouts and then there’s workouts. Swinging a sledgehammer on a giant tractor tire is a workout. That’s what David Blair was up to for his workouts during quarantine. Blair, an Eagle Scout, was asked to speak to the Boy Scouts of America’s live national camp-in, presumably not only on workout tips.
Even in a pandemic year, life must go on and plenty of U.S. track and field athletes had some memorable moments in 2020.
Deja Young endured a tough year, not only missing out on valuable competition in her already decorated career, but also contracting COVID-19. The disease knocked out even an elite athlete like Young with extreme exhaustion and symptoms that lasted for weeks. One silver lining was that she had another year to prepare for the postponed Paralympic Games.
And the year ended on an upswing. Young got engaged to her boyfriend Timothy Craddock on Dec. 16.
“As soon as I meet you I knew that you were the one,” Young wrote. “Everyday that we have spent together has been amazing. Even apart it has been nothing short of amazing. Words can’t describe what you mean to me but, I promise I will spend forever searching for them.”
Her replies were filled with well wishes from fellow Paralympians such as Femita Ayanbeku and Lacey Henderson.
Noelle Lambert appeared on the Kelly Clarkson show in early December as she was named a national honoree by L’Oreal Paris’ Women of Worth program. Lambert is the founder of the Born to Run Foundation, which is dedicated to procuring specialized prosthetics for young amputees, not only for pursuing athletics but also so they may lead fuller lives.
Kym Crosby probably faked out a lot of fans on Dec. 14 when she and husband Erik Hightower posted a series of photos that began with them holding a sign saying, “Our little family is growing!” Fans had to click through to learn that they were talking about a new dog, as Crosby’s guide dog Keystone was retiring.
At least two athletes said goodbye to their high school days. Noah Malone graduated from Hamilton Southeastern High School in June, when he was named 2020 Indiana Mr. Track and Field. Next up for Malone is college at Indiana State.
And Sophie Munter graduated from Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington, where she was an All-American.