Fifty-one U.S. athletes are making their final preparations to compete at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships, which begin on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011.
“Christchurch is a great city. The people here are really friendly and helpful,” Lex Gillette, who will be competing in the 100m, long jump and triple jump, stated in a press release. “We’ve been out to the competition venue for a few practices and it’s a really nice facility. We’re looking forward to going out and making some things happen.”
Prior to arriving in Christchurch, Team USA gathered in Sydney, Australia for its last training camp and competition in advance of the world championships. Now having spent 4 days in the host city and having the opportunity to train at the competition venue at QEII Park, the athletes are ready to run, push, throw and jump.
“This is my first world championships, so I’m just looking forward to the competition and running some of my best times yet,” Kortney Clemons, a U.S. Army veteran making his Team USA debut, stated. “I’m doing the long jump, 100m and 200m. This is my first opportunity to line up with the best sprinters in the world and see how I measure up. I’m really excited about that and look forward to growing as an athlete as I compete at these world championships.”
Also making his first appearance for Team USA is Dennis Ogbe, who will be competing in the shot put and discus. Ogbe has previously competed for his native country, Nigeria. But, he recently became a U.S. citizen and will as an American for the first time.
“I am so proud to be an American, I can not even find the words to describe the feeling,” Ogbe stated. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a major international competition like this, so what I’m aiming for is to get that experience under my belt again. What I always believe in is ‘He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.’ So no matter what the outcome of this competition will be, I’m just going to take home what I’ve learned here and work harder.”
On the other end of the spectrum is Team USA veteran Jessica Galli, a three-time Paralympian preparing for her third IPC Athletics World Championships. Galli won five medals at the 2006 World Championships in Assen, The Netherlands and another five medals at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Galli has the potential to win six medals in Christchurch, as she will compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m events, as well as the 4x400m relay.
“I feel a little bit of pressure on me and I think I need to let that all go and see how things go on the track,” Galli stated. “I just need to perform the best I can and be proud of whatever that performance may be.”