Paralympic runner Lex Gillette poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.
Every other Tuesday we scour the web for the latest going on in the world of U.S. Para track and field. Here’s what you missed!
Social Media Roundup
Paralympian Lex Gillette lives his life by a simple mantra: “No need for sight when you have a vision.” That message has resonated with fans, and on Nov. 23, the four-time Paralympic medalist did a giveaway of hoodies, running out in just a couple hours. For fans who missed out, Gillette sells some merchandise on his website.
November marked the one-year anniversary of the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, and World Para Athletics took some time on Instagram to look back at some of the highlights. With a total of 34 medals won, 12 of them gold, it’s no wonder Team USA featured in some of them.
On Nov. 15, it was Brittni Mason. Competing in her first international track meet, Mason blew away the field in the 100-meter T47, not only winning a gold medal but setting a world record of 11.89 seconds in the process. U.S. teammate Deja Young ran second with a time of 11.94.
On Nov. 16, it was Ezra Frech. Frech was the youngest member of Team USA at the world championships, and showed a lot of promise for the future placing seventh in the men’s high jump T63.
Normally, athletes could look forward to next year as the next world championships, but instead they’ll be looking forward to the postponed Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. The world championships will move back a year to 2022, and will take place just a short bullet train ride from Tokyo in Kobe, Japan.
World Para Athletics also threw it way back, to 1964, and let’s just say that wheelchair racing has come a pretty far distance in technology in the decades since.
In the News
With the program for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024 set to be confirmed in the first quarter of 2021, World Para Athletics has announced a membership consultation to evaluate the program and all it entails prior to that. Among the suggestions that World Para Athletics will put forward is the inclusion of frame running, formerly known as racerunning, for inclusion in the program.
Frame running was invented in 1991, and had its international debut for both genders at the 2019 world championships. It involves using a custom tricycle with no pedals to race down a track. It is a sport primarily enjoyed by amputees and people with cerebral palsy and arthritis.
World Para Athletics will also be looking at representation in each sport to ensure a better gender balance. In Tokyo next year, there are 93 events scheduled for men, 74 for women, and one mixed event.
Acknowledging the importance of college athletics as a pipeline to Olympic and Paralympic sports, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced the formation of the USOPC College Sports Sustainability Think Tank to continue to foster those opportunities, and track Paralympian Jessica Heims will be one of the voices helping shape the conversation.
Athletes like Heims, executives, and others from the world of Olympic and Paralympic sports will serve on working groups focused on three areas: partnerships, sport economics and regulations. Heims will serve on the Partnerships Working Group, which will focus on exploring options for collaborations across various stakeholder groups. Heims is one of two athletes in that group along with Olympic hockey player Cayla Barnes. Heims has posted before about the importance of her career at the University of Northern Iowa in putting her on the path to the Paralympic Games. Those sorts of paths are what the think tank is designed to encourage.
“Our country’s unique college system is critical not just to the health of our Olympic and Paralympic teams, but to the longstanding vitality of sports across our country,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland.
The think tank will first convene in late November and will formally present its first recommendations to the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council in the first quarter of 2021.