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Team USA Goes for Gold at 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio

Paralympics in RioThe Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio was held September 7th at Maracana Stadium and welcomed paralympians from around the world including the award-winning Team USA. Represented by 289 men and women competing in 20 sporting events, the team chose Allison Jones, a cyclist and alpine skier from Colorado Springs, Colorado to be their flag bearer.

The 289-member team (including 7 guides for athletes with visual impairments) is the largest U.S. delegation in history. “We are proud and excited to announce our largest team yet to compete in the Paralympics Games,” says Rick Adams, chief of Paralympic sports and National Governing Body Organizational Development, United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

“It’s tremendous to see our team increase by over 17-percent since the 2012 London Paralympics,” adds Adams. This huge increase indicates the rapid growth of the Paralympic movement here in the United States. Adams believes that this year’s Paralympic team is not just going for gold but also will take the nation by storm with their determination and athleticism. They will inspire the next generation and convert them into amazing athletes who are even more than willing to do better. Team USA will compete in 20 sports from archery to wheelchair tennis, September 7th thru 18th, 2016.

At the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, the team finished fourth with 98 medals. Of the 289 members, 14 are looking to defend their titles and 18 won numerous medals in the previous Paralympic Games. The team also has thirty active duty service members and military veterans, some of whom were wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. McCalin Hernes, a swimmer who turned just 15 in January this year, is the youngest member of the 2016 USA Paralympic team, while the 64-year old sailor Dee Smith is the oldest.

Other than being the flag bearer, Allison Jones boasts the most Games experience with this year’s competition being her 8th Paralympic Games. Another experienced teammate is Jen Armbruster who will be making her 7th games experience. Also, there are six athletes who will be competing in their 5th games. Overall, 125 US athletes boast prior Games experience and 142 are making their Paralympic debut. The 2016 Paralympics most decorated athlete is swimmer Jessica Long with 17 Paralympic medals. She is followed somewhat closely by Tatyana McFadden who has 11 medals. In general, the team has 69 Paralympic medalists.

With such experience, Adams is certain this team will make USA proud. They are determined to do better and inspire those who will come after them. Going by the facts, we can confidently say that this team knows what they want in this year’s Paralympic Games. They have the quality, experience, and above all determination to go for gold in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Image Credit: Rafa Bahiense | Flickr

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