During the Paralympic Games next fall in China, the best athletes with a physical disability from around the world will gather for 11 days of exhilarating competition. U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, will mark the occasion by launching the Paralympic Academy Beijing, as well as by hosting a sports clinic at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The Paralympic Academy Beijing program will send 35 student athletes with physical disabilities and 15 Paralympic coaches to the games, which will be held from early to mid September of next year. Participants in Paralympic Academy Beijing will have an opportunity to meet U.S. Paralympic team members, attend the opening ceremonies and athletic competitions, while building rapport with other potential competitors.
“Less than five-percent of kids with physical disabilities participate in physical fitness programs,” said Charlie Huebner, chief of U.S. Paralympics. “The Paralympic Academy Beijing provides us an opportunity to recognize those kids with physical disabilities and programs that promote physical fitness and health.”
Children and young adults from 12 to 18 years old can apply to attend the games by filling out a form, and writing a 500-word essay on What Ability Means To Me, as well as by including letters of recommendation. In the spirit of the games, the USOC and its Paralympic Division recently hosted a fencing clinic at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Olympian Rulon Gardner (wrestling), two-time Paralympian John Register (swimming and track & field) and Paralympic hopefuls and Walter Reed alumni James Stuck (sitting volleyball) and Melissa Stockwell (swimming) assisted with the clinic. They also offered support and words of appreciation to members of the military who were injured while serving in Iraq.
About the 2008 Paralympic Games:Approximately 250 U.S. athletes will represent the U.S. Paralympic Team in archery, athletics, boccia, cycling, equestrian, fencing, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, sailing, shooting, sitting volleyball, soccer, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.
The U.S. Paralympic Team won a total of 88 medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. .
For more information and an application to attend the games: www.usparalympics.org
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