Sports

USABA Contributor Lacey Markle – Results from the 2012 London Paralympic Games

The 2012 London Paralympic Games marked the fourteenth edition of the Games, and was the largest Paralympic Games in history with an estimated 4,200 participating athletes from 165 counties. Team USA finished with 98 medals (31 Gold, 29 Silver and 38 Bronze). Congratulations to all of our 227 athletes for a great Paralympic Games! Here are the results for Team USA athletes who are blind and visually impaired. To look up other results please visit: www.paralympic.org

Sailing

JP Creignou and Jen French (Two-Person Keelboat – SKUD 18) raced in ten events and never finished below fifth place. This hard work and determination led them to the Silver medal!

Rowing

Andrew Johnson and Eleni Englert are a part of The Mixed Coxed Four – LTAMix4+ team that won in repechage, which placed them into the Final A group. At the end of the final race Team USA ended up coming in 6th overall.

Goalball

USA Women’s Goalball had their share of up’s and down’s in London. The ladies won against Sweden 5-1, lost against Japan 2-1, beat Australia 3-0 and lost against Canada 1-0. After four matches Team USA took on China where they lost 5-0. Although they played hard and tried their absolutely best the USA Women’s Goalball team ended up taking 8th place overall.

Swimming

Tucker Dupree (S12) took fifth in the 400m Freestyle and fourth in 100m Butterfly. Tucker ended up taking away three medals overall: a Bronze medal in the 100m Freestyle, Silver medal in the 100m Backstroke and Bronze medal in the 50m Freestyle.

Brad Snyder (S11) set a Paralympic Record with a time of 57.18 in the preliminaries for the 100m Freestyle and ended up winning the Gold medal in this event. He also took home a Silver Medal in the 50m Freestyle. In his other events Brad placed eighth in the 100m Backstroke, sixth in the 100m Breaststroke, fourth in the 100m Butterfly and sixth in the 200m Individual Medley. On September 7th, exactly one year to the day when an improvised explosive device went off in Afghanistan and took his vision; Brad swam the 400m Freestyle and won the Gold medal! Click here to watch an interview with Brad on CNN.

Kelley Becherer (S13) won the Gold medal in the 50m Freestyle. In the 100m Freestyle Kelley also won the Gold medal, making that her second gold of the games. In the 200m Individual Medley she took the Bronze medal and won another Bronze medal in the 100m Breaststroke. Kelley won a medal in every event she competed in, what an accomplishment!

Rebecca Anne Meyers (S13) took fourth in the 50m Freestyle. She continued to win the Bronze medal in the 100m Freestyle and in the 200m Individual Medley Rebecca took the Silver medal. Finally, in the 100m Breaststroke Rebecca finished fifth in her heat.

Colleen Young (S13) came in sixth place in her heat for the 50m Freestyle, fifth in her heat for the 100m Freestyle. She also took fifth in the 100m Breaststroke and seventh in the 200m Individuals Medley.

Letticia Martinez (S11) took sixth in her heat in the 100m Backstroke, eighth in the 100m Breaststroke and third in her heat in the 200m Individual Medley.

Judo

Ron Hawthorne took seventh in the 60kg weight class
Cindy Simon came in fifth in the 57kg weight class
Cristella Garcia (70kg) and Katie Davis (70+ kg) made it to quarterfinals
Dartanyon Crockett won the Bronze medal in the Men’s 90kg
Myles Porter took the Silver medal in the Men’s 100kg

Road/Track Cycling

In Track Cycling, Clark Rachfal and his pilot Dave Swanson took sixth in the Individual B Pursuit and seventh in the Individual B 1km Time Trial.
Clark and Dave also competed in Road Cycling where the duo finished eighth in the Individual B Time Trial and tenth in the Individual B Road Race.

Athletics

Markeith Price (T13) took eight in the 400m, sixth in the Long Jump (F13) and fifth in his heat for the 200m.

In the 100m (T12) Josiah Jamison and his guide Jermone Avery placed fourth in their heat. They also finished second in their heat for the 200m, which qualified them for semifinals. During semifinals Josiah and Jermone were disqualified and did not advance to the finals.

Lex Gillette won the silver medal in the Long Jump (F11). He also finished fourth in the Triple Jump with a distance of 12.39m, this was his season best. Lex and his guide Wesley Williams took third in their heat for the 200m (T11). Finally, they ran in the 100m and placed third in their heat.

Tanner Gers took 11th place in the Long Jump (F11).

David Brown and his guide Rolland Slade took second in their heat for the 200m (T11). In the 100m David and Rolland finished second in their heat with a time of 11.37, a personal best, and placed third in their heat in the semifinals.

Hall of Fame

The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) would also like to extend a huge congratulation to Trischa Zorn! The most decorated Paralympian ever and USABA Board Member was inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame in London. She competed as a member of the USA swim team from 1980-2000. In seven Games, she won a staggering 55 medals, including 41 Gold, nine Silver and five Bronze. Trischa held many world records during her career, two of which still stand today, eight years after she last competed! Check out this video from her induction: http://ow.ly/dooJY.

Relive your favorite moments from the 2012 London Paralympic Games by checking out http://www.youtube.com/usparalympics/ for video highlights!

Contributor Lacey Markle – The United States Association of Blind Athletes Impacts Lives through Sports and Recreation

There are an estimated 52,000 school-aged children who are blind and visually impaired in the United States; nearly 70 percent do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum. The barriers that blind and visually impaired youth face are numerous and primarily the consequences of moving their education from residential schools, where physical educators with blindness knowledge deliver specialized services in relatively small classes, to public schools where educators may have less knowledge, time and resources to apply to students who are visually impaired.

The benefits of sports and recreation have been shown to continue from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. A recent survey of United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) members revealed that not only do participants benefit academically from their involvement in sports during elementary and high school, but 57 percent of USABA members continued on to higher education to pursue a college degree  which is more than double the national average of 23 percent for their visually impaired peers. Helping to increase the involvement in physical activity as well as higher education, 18 agencies assisting youth who are blind and visually impaired are working towards a healthier lifestyle with the start of the National Fitness Challenge created by the United States Association of Blind Athletes and funded by the WellPoint Foundation, the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. USABA and the WellPoint Foundation are actively working towards a healthier lifestyle by providing talking pedometers as well as fitness and nutrition coaches for each agency. Each athlete has the opportunity to be the top boy and girl from their agency and participate in the final National Fitness Challenge, a four-day camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado where they will participate in track and field, goalball, swimming and strength and conditioning workouts in order to learn more about fitness and become more involved in their local community. Mark Lucas, executive director of USABA, explained, “Our goal for the National Fitness Challenge is the top 36 teens will go back to their communities and join sports teams. We want to reward the teens for their hard work and dedication towards leading an active and healthy lifestyle. Each participant will be provided skill development that can lead to national and international competions.”

Sports and physical activity is the gift that keeps on giving, the benefits can be reaped throughout childhood and adulthood. As the National Fitness Challenge year comes to a close, USABA and the WellPoint Foundation hope the athletes met their goal of a 50 percent total decrease in body mass index (BMI). Not only will these teens lower their BMI, but through participation in sports and physical activity, these teens will realize new levels of independence, confidence and determination.

For More Information
For more information in becoming involved or for general information contact Lacey Markle at the United States Association of Blind Athletes at (719) 866-3222 or military_pgm_asst@usaba.org, or go to USABA’s website at www.usaba.org.

Sports – Visually Impaired Triathlete Drives for Success

“If you don’t watch, we’ll kick you in the butt.”  Those are the words of warning from 30 year old Ryan Van Praet, who will be competing in an Ironman triathlon this Saturday in Clearwater, Florida, where he’ll be trying for a world title as a visually impaired triathlete.

One of only a few paratriathletes during the event, Ryan doesn’t want anyone to think of him any differently than the other competitors.  In fact, he’s challenging anyone who dares to think otherwise.  “We all have the same physical battle, he said.  “And as far as training, we can do it just like anyone else.  And we’re out to beat you.”

Praet wasn’t always a paratriathlete, but the degenerative disease retinitis pigmentosa has left him with only eight percent usable vision.  He competed solo in six Ironman competitions, starting back in 2000, but he had to make the switch to a paratriathlete last year.  Now, he uses various guides to get him through the course.  While swimming and running, he is tethered to a partner, and while biking he uses a tandem bike.  Last year, in an Ironman competition in Lake Placid, he and his partner placed second.

Praet stresses that their goal is to always perform at or above the level of the able-bodied athletes they compete against.

Praet is an athlete at heart and when his vision deteriorated, he lost the ability to participate in many of the sports that he loved.  Triathlon helped fill that gap and fulfill his need to be an athlete; to challenge himself and push himself to succeed.  As a goal-oriented and driven person, triathlon is his haven, and no matter what designation he must give himself–paratriathlete or otherwise–he’s there to compete, he’s there to win, and he’ll work as hard as anyone else out there to accomplish that.

Good luck, Ryan.

Source:  http://www.metronews.ca/ottawa/local/article/686953–don-t-feel-sorry-for-us-warns-visually-impaired-ironman-athlete

George Steinbrenner Passes Away at 80

After a massive heart attack on Tuesday, July 13, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner passed away in a hospital in Tampa, Florida.

The controversial Yankees owner, who was infamous for his fights with various players and coaches in his staff, was an owner who demanded those working for him nothing short of absolute success.  While his attitudes about winning may have been cumbersome, his own accomplishments were realized as a direct result of that winner’s spirit. 

When George acquired the Yankees, the franchise was worth only 10 million dollars.  Now, a model of the modern franchise, the Yankees are worth over 1.5 billion.  Under Steinbrenner’s iron fist, the Yankees went on to win seven World Series Championships, eleven American League pennants, and 16 AL East titles.  George was a man who expected the best, and he clearly had a chance to revel in his successes many times.

George was never shy about spending money to achieve those successes, either.  At one point, Larry Lucchino, president of the Boston Red Sox, dubbed Steinbrenner’s Yankees, the “Evil Empire.”  Many of the player acquisitions that Steinbrenner was a part of were the most expensive ever seen.  Later, they became the first team to reach a 200 million dollar payroll.  When this milestone was reached, Baltimore Orioles owner Bennett Williams was once quoted saying that Steinbrenner stockpiled outfielders “like nuclear weapons.”

Love him or hate him, Steinbrenner was a huge part of baseball.  His win no matter what attitude made him exceptionally popular among his fans while simultaneously making him one of the most disliked owners in professional sports for stacking his team with talent at great expense.  Even Yogi Berra, who fought with Steinbrenner for 14 years expresses a great deal of adoration for George.  Yogi said, “He built the Yankees into champions, and that’s something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn’t? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much.”

George was a winner, no doubt, and that meant the world to him.  He often said, “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing.  Breathing first, winning next.”

To read the original article, please go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/13/george-steinbrenner-dead_n_644215.html?view=print

Visually Impaired Golfer Not Worried About His Handicap

Mark Arnold loves the game of golf, and he’s actually quite good at it.  Arnold suffers from Stargardt’s disease, a form of macular degeneration.  But that hasn’t stopped him in the least.  A couple weekends ago, Arnold competed against 10 Canadian golfers, all of whom were visually impaired as well.  He is the captain of the American team that competes in tournaments together and is the co-founder of American Blind Golf.

Arnold uses a coach when playing in tournaments and on his own.  He and his coach, Arnold Schmock, played golf against each other as far back as 1984.  In 2001, when Arnold began to lose his sight, he asked Schmock to become his coach so that he could begin to play in blind golf tournaments.  Schmock’s answer came back quickly.  “When do we start?” Schmock asked.

When playing, Schmock will lead Arnold to his ball and line up the club face so that it is centered on the ball.  He also lines up his hips so that he’s aiming in the right direction  From there, it’s all Arnold.  As a blind golfer, Arnold’s swing is a little different.  While a sighted golfer will allow some motion in his hips and legs to get a stronger swing, Arnold’s lower body stays rigid so that he can make sure that he stays in line with where Schmock placed him.  Arnold can now tell immediately if he’s hit the ball wrong, as well.  Before Schmock even has the chance to inform him that his shot was a hook or a slice, Arnold already knows by feel alone and usually jokes with Schmock that he gave him the wrong club.  Schmock also guards him from the mental games that golf offers as well.  If there is a bunker or a water hazard in front of him, Schmock won’t say a thing.  He’ll aim him where he needs to hit, tell him the distance, and Arnold will swing.  That way, he won’t be nervous about hitting the water or the beach and will swing better.

Unfortunately for Arnold and his team, the Canadians took home the trophy in this year’s match, saying that if Arnold and his crew want it back, they’ll have to come get it at next year’s tournament when it’s held in Nova Scotia.

There’s no doubt that Arnold will be there.

To read the original article, please go to http://blog.cleveland.com/medinasun/2010/07/for_visually_impaired_golfer_t.html

Paul the Octopus: International Legend

The now-famous German Octopus named Paul has earned a ton of recognition lately due to his odd talent.  Paul is now a renowned World Cup prognosticator.  Beginning with the single elimination brackets, Paul has predicted the winner of a number of different games.  The amazing part is that he has predicted correctly every single time. 

The process is pretty simple.  Paul’s handler drops two plastic boxes, each with a country’s flag printed on the outside, into Paul’s tank.  Inside each box are identical mussels for Paul to dine on.  Since everything is portioned equally, Paul is not swayed to make one choice over the other.  Whichever box he opens to grab the mussel from is going to be the winner.

Since he is a German Octopus, most of the picks were based on German games.  Every time that Paul picked them to win, they did.  Unfortunately for the Germans, Paul also picked their opponents as well, including their loss to Spain in the game that decided who would go to the finals.  Paul ate the mussel behind the Spanish flag and the rest, as they say, is history.

After that German loss, many were calling for Paul’s head, or tentacles, depending on how you look at it.  They demanded that he be cooked for going against the Germans in such an important game.  It’s an odd superstition for sure, but when the octopus is always right, many people apparently put a lot of faith in it.  Paul’s handlers have assured the people that he will not be cooked as a result of his picks.

Up until Sunday, Paul was perfect, picking the winner of all seven games correctly.  When Spain and the Netherlands met this afternoon for the finals, Paul proved to be right again.  While it took Spain 116 minutes to finally score the goal that would win them the game, Paul’s pick took a mere 10 seconds.  He must’ve known from the start.  He better hope that the Dutch don’t have a taste for octopus, too.

Paul also picked the winner of the game for third place between Germany and Uruguay, with Germany coming out on top.  If he’s right, it will mean a perfect 9 for 9 with his World Cup picks and a lot of people shaking their heads wondering how he did it, or if it’s just coincidence.  A whole lot of coincidence.

Monday morning update:  Paul was right about Germany.  He finished 9 for 9.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/09/paul-the-octopus-makes-tw_n_640575.html

USABA Update – U.S. Women Take Silver, U.S. Men Fall Just Short of Podium

(From Press Release with Permission) 

Just as in the Women’s 2008 Paralympic goalball game for gold, the U.S. Women’s National Team and the China Women’s National Team squared off once again for a rematch during the 2010 IBSA Goalball World Championships.  Both the U.S. and China had remained undefeated throughout the Championships leading into the gold medal match. China still dwelling on the Paralympic gold medal loss two years ago was looking for retribution. The game started at a quick pace with each side trying to remain on the offensive with neither side budging. The U.S. conceded a goal midway through the first half by bouncing the ball off the arm of Lisa Czechowski, who played center, and then it rolled off the shoulder of Asya Miller, playing left wing. 

In the opening seconds of the second half, Czechowski with the first throw found the back of the net scoring for the U.S.  China however recovered quickly and scored their second goal shortly thereafter.  Asya Miller and Jennifer Armbruster, playing the wings, pounded the China defense hoping to find a gap to score but not able to do so.  China scored again midway through the second half which became the final score, China 3 U.S. 1, giving the U.S. Women silver medal and a berth in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. 

The U.S. Men faced off against Iran in the bronze medal game.  These teams faced each other earlier in the competition during pool play.  The U.S. got to work quickly during the match with the first goal.  Iran wasting no time scored the next two goals by the end of the first half which proved to be the difference.  By the end of the game, each team added two more goals each and Iran emerged victorious with a final of Iran 5, U.S. 3. 

For more information, please visit the championship’s official website at http://www.worldgoalball2010.com/  or The Audio Network at http://pressakey.net/wc2010/index.php

A True Endurance Match

At 11 hours and 5 minutes, John Isner and Nicholas Mahut concluded the longest match in tennis history.  They beat the old record by more than 5 hours.  The match had originally begun on Tuesday, June 22, and was suspended twice due to darkness before ending on Thursday morning.  The 5th set alone took 8 hours and finished with a score of 70 to 68 in favor of the American victor, John Isner.

After the match ended with the 6 foot 9 inch tall Isner getting a blazing backhander past Mahut, Isner dropped to his knees, victorious, but notably exhausted.  Immediately following the match, the judges and the two players were awarded special gifts that were presented in wooden boxes.  The players looked as if they were struggling to hold them. 

When asked for a comment about his opponent, Isner simply said, “What more can you say? To share this day was an absolute honor.”  Mahut, though defeated, said to a reporter, “At this moment, it is just really painful.  Thanks to you guys, you were completely fantastic. John deserved to win. He served unbelievable. It was an honor to play. We played the greatest match ever, and Wimbledon is the greatest place to play.”  In order to stay in the match, Mahut needed to serve 65 times in the 5th set.

This is one of those games that whether you play tennis or not, you’ll remember for a long time.  Both players refused to give up, refused to let exhaustion get the best of them, and they played their hardest until the very end.  While records are always made to be broken, this one seems like it will remain unchallenged for a while.  Because, really, who wants to play one match for 11 hours, and who even has the strength and endurance to pull it off?

To read the original article, please go to http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-wimbledon-longest-match,0,1719439,print.story

A World Cup That’s Accessible to All

Cooperating together, the Swiss National Association for the Blind and the South African National Council for the Blind have teamed up with FIFA to make the World Cup games more accessible than ever.

Believing that soccer is a universal sport that should be accessible to everyone, FIFA president Joseph Blatter is excited that they will be able to offer a unique live experience for blind and visually impaired fans attending the games in South Africa.  15 seats in 6 different stadiums will be reserved for the blind and visually impaired.  Each will be outfitted with a set of headphones and specially-trained commentators will cover every pass, shot, and goal of the games.  Each of those 15 seats will also have a reserved spot for guides as well.  Trained volunteers will also be on hand to provide assistance if it is needed.

By offering this experience to blind and visually impaired soccer fans at such a large venue like the World Cup, hopefully other professional sports will recognize its value and incorporate these services in their stadiums as well.  That way, no matter what, everyone can enjoy the games that bring us together.

To read the original article, please go to http://clicknews.org/live-fifa-world-cup-2010-for-the-blind-and-visually-impaired/10483/

A Wager Between Two Powers

With the World Cup upon us, everyone is beginning to get excited.  Some of the most excited, though, are the American and English ambassadors, who have started a bet with one another.

In an email exchange that was just made public, the ambassadors have put a steak dinner on the line; loser pays.  Apparently Phillip Breen, a spokesperson for the American Embassy to the U.K., is said to have been the one to initiate the exchange between the two.

The two countries have a long World Cup history.  The last time they met each other was in the 1950 game, where the U.S. pulled off an amazing one to nothing win against the English that has been called “the Miracle on the Grass” ever since.  Since the English were bested last time and have had to wait very long to compete with the U.S. again, and the U.S. wants to maintain its winning record, both countries want this win badly.

In Breen’s initial email he jokingly said, “We will understand if you decline, given the outcome of the last such encounter.”  In response, the English Embassy quickly accepted the bet, adding, “The British Ambassador does not anticipate paying out.”

As the emails were exchanged back and forth, the dialog became a battle of wits and joking jabs at the other country.  The English made sure to mention that, “The history of English football is long and extensive, in contradistinction to U.S. soccer.”  The American Embassy retorted with, “It is true that our soccer (a fine English word we have kindly preserved for you) history is not as long and illustrious as yours. However, as your generals noted during WWII, we have a unique capability for quickly identifying and advancing talent.”

The two teams will meet this Saturday, both hungry for a win, and with ambassadors cheering them on, hungry for a meal.

As the email exchange died down, the British Embassy made sure to get one last comment in, saying, “The Ambassador takes his steak like American soccer victories – somewhat rare.”

It’s safe to say that these games have always brought the world together to celebrate the globally recognized sport.  And even though there are two countries who have started their feud early on, it’s all in good fun and will perhaps set the scene for the next steak dinner sometime in the future.

To read the original article, please go to http://blogs.abcnews.com/theworldnewser/2010/06/world-cup-wager-tests-ukus-special-friendship.html