Blind Triathletes to Attend 3 Day Camp at US Olympic Training Center

By USA Triathlon

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon and the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) have partnered to host the first-ever paratriathlon camp in Colorado Springs dedicated to athletes with visual impairments. Ten triathletes and ten guides from across the U.S. will travel to the U.S. Olympic Training Center to participate in the three-day camp, set for Thursday, August 23, through Saturday, August 25.

The camp will focus on the para-specific dynamics of swimming, biking and running, as well as other aspects of triathlon performance (basic nutrition, transitions, goal-setting, etc.). Coaches will include seven-time ITU Paratriathlon World Champion Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.), 2017 USA Paratriathlon Coach of the Year and Paralympic Head Coach for Team USA, Mark Sortino (Boise, Idaho), and USA Triathlon certified coach, tandem pilot and triathlete Amanda Leibovitz (Bellingham, Wash.).

Visual impairment is one of six paratriathlon categories recognized by the International Paralympic Committee and includes athletes who are totally blind and athletes who are partially sighted but legally blind. Triathletes with visual impairments compete alongside a guide. During the swim, the guide and athlete are tethered together — usually at the thigh or hip. The athlete then rides behind his or her guide, or pilot, on a tandem bike before finishing the race on foot with a tether connecting athlete and guide.

The following athletes, among others, will be available for media interviews:

Lindsay Ball (Benton, Maine) represented the U.S. at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in alpine skiing. She is a two-time U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing national champion and was the 2012 Winter Park IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup bronze medalist. Ball completed her first triathlon in 2010, and is now beginning to pursue the sport competitively.

Kyle Coon (Carbondale, Colo.) has been a triathlete since 2015. He has completed three long-course (IRONMAN 70.3) and two ultra-distance (IRONMAN) triathlons, in addition to several sprint and Olympic-distance events. Coon’s best long-course finish came at IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder last year, when he won the men’s physically challenged division covering the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run in 5 hours, 11 minutes, 9 seconds.

Michael Somsan (Gilbert, Ariz.) is a retired U.S. Army First Lieutenant who lost his vision to a gunshot wound in 1995. Somsan was the top finisher in the men’s physically changed division at the 2016 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. He has also completed IRONMAN Arizona (2015), IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside (2016) and several sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES: 
Media representatives are invited to capture coverage of the camp and/or conduct interviews with participants to help raise awareness about the sporting opportunities available to individuals who are blind and visually impaired, and how these athletes’ lives are being positively impacted through sport.

A tentative list of opportunities is outlined below. Training sessions may be altered depending on weather and scheduling. Please contact Caryn Maconi (USA Triathlon) or Courtney Patterson (USABA) if you would like to attend any of the training sessions.

Thursday, Aug. 23:
4-6 p.m. Run Session (Roads TBD)

Friday, Aug. 24:
8-11 a.m. Bike Skills/Ride (Roads TBD)
1-3 p.m. Swim Session – Outdoor Pool at U.S. Olympic Training Center*

Saturday, Aug. 25:

8-11 a.m. Bike Skills/Ride (Roads TBD)
1-3 p.m. Swim Session – Outdoor Pool at U.S. Olympic Training Center*
3-4 p.m. Transition Skills (Roads/OTC)

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Blind runners form a tight community

DENVER, CO – APRIL 22: Blind runner Amelia Dickerson, right, gets congratulated by her friend and guide Grace Dill, left, after finishing the 5 mile race of the 36th annual Cherry Creek Sneak road race on April 22, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. The race, which heralds spring in Colorado, includes a 10 mile race, a 5 mile run/walk, a 5K race and a kids 1/2 mile fun run. Thousands of people turned out for the annual event as the temperatures were cool but the skies were sunny making for a perfect race day. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

From the Denver Post

By Danika Worthington

About 15 participants enjoy the social nature of race

Members of the tight-knit group pumped up one another at the starting line.

Shoes were retied last minute as the national anthem played from the speakers. When it finished, the announcer asked blind and visually impaired runners to come forward.

The group made their way up. Crosby, a guide dog for runner Kerry Kuck, stood at the front of the pack. The runners prepared for their starting cue, which was a minute before the rest of the participants tackled the 5-mile route at the annual Cherry Creek Sneak.

“Crosby the dog is going to lead the way,” the announcer barked out to the crowd. Then, the start was signaled. The runners and their guides took off, breaking away down the first stretch.

The Colorado Springs based U.S. Association of Blind Athletes partnered with Achilles Denver, the local chapter of an international organization that gives athletes with disabilities a community of support, and Lending Sight, a Colorado sports club that connects those with good vision with blind or visually impaired runners, to recruit about 15 runners and guides to race Sunday.

For some, the sport is about escaping isolation or exploring freedom. For others, it is a fun form of exercise. Regardless of the motivation, the athletes all expressed a similar theme: Blind runners have a tight community in Denver.

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