Local athlete aims for Paralympics

Local athlete aims for Paralympics
Paratriathlete Jamie Brown crosses the finish line at the International Triathlon Union San Diego race on April 20, placing fourth in his classification in the 750-meter swim, 12-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run event. Courtesy photo

CARLSBAD — Having competed internationally in paratriathlons for the past few years, Jamie Brown said that between swimming, biking and running his favorite part of every race is the finish line.The 33-year-old Carlsbad athlete is one of the founding members of the newly formed Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) Elite Paratriathlon Team. As a team member, he has dedicated himself to competing around the world in the hopes of racing in the debut of paratriathlons at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“It’s a very unique sport just because you have to compete in all three events,” said Brown, who has competed in sports all of his life, about paratriathlons.

The sprint distance paratriathlons, in which he competes, require athletes to swim 750 meters, bike 12 miles, and run 3.1 miles.

He said that because of all of the different elements of paratriathlons, “I don’t think it’s even possible to run a perfect race.”

But for Brown, that has been part of the sport’s appeal. He said he is driven by the “never-ending challenge to improve.”

Paratriathlete Jamie Brown crosses the finish line at the International Triathlon Union San Diego race on April 20, placing fourth in his classification in the 750-meter swim, 12-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run event.  Courtesy photo

Paratriathlete Jamie Brown crosses the finish line at the International Triathlon Union San Diego race on April 20, placing fourth in his classification in the 750-meter swim, 12-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run event. Courtesy photo

He initially discovered paratriathlons at a camp hosted by CAF in 2010. CAF is a San Diego-based organization that supports people with physical disabilities so they can be involved in sports.

Brown, who was born without a fibia in his right leg and a deformed right foot, had his foot amputated when he was 11 months old. He has competed in sports using special prosthetics, and played baseball through high school and college.

“I’ve always played sports growing up, playing against the able-bodied kids … I have such a passion for sports,” Brown said.

“Paratriathlon is so different to begin with. It really requires a lot of skill and even a little bit of risk taking,” said Mark Sortino, the director CAF paratriathlon team. “When you see a challenged athlete competing in it, people are just amazed.”

“(Brown is) actually fairly new in the sport, which is surprising considering how well he’s done in such a short amount of time,” he added.

Most recently, Brown placed fourth in the division for below the knee amputees in the International Triathlon Union San Diego race on April 20. He also was the USA National Champion for paratriathlons for 2011 and 2012.

Grant funding for travel and equipment from CAF has enabled Brown and his six other team members to pursue competing in more paratriathlon events.

“Without Challenged Athletes Foundation, I couldn’t even come close to doing all of these events,” Brown said.

While health insurance will cover walking prosthetics for amputees, it does not cover the special prosthetics needed for running and biking, which cost thousands of dollars.

Sortino said that competing in triathlons costs $15,000 more at minimum for challenged athletes compared to the basic expenses paid by able-bodied athletes.

Brown and the rest of the CAF paratriathlon team will continue to aim for the Paralympics by racing in the 2013 USA Paratriathlon National Championship in Austin, Texas May 27.

Brown anticipates competing against about 75 of the nation’s best athletes in his division at the event.

Sortino said that Brown’s classification is the second most competitive in paratriathlons.

“He really is truly racing against the best in the world,” he said.

Brown said he will continue his regimen of training 12 to 18 hours each week to prepare, but knows that there are some aspects of the race he will not be able to predict.

“You never really know what you’re going to get into once you get out there,” Brown said, explaining that a race can easily be influenced by the weather or terrain. But for him, “Having that not knowing sensation is kind of the fun part.”

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