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Athletes triumph in Paralympic event

Athletes triumph in Paralympic event

Rudy Garcia-Tolson participated in the men’s long jump ambulatory. He notched 5.15 meters in the event, tieing up at second place with fellow long jumper Ahkeel Whitehead.

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A paralympic event funded by Shoe City and supported by the Cerritos College track and field team, was held last Saturday at Falcon Stadium with 43 athletes from 13 states and two countries participating for a $10,000 shared prize.

Competitions ranging from 200 meter wheelchair races, shot-put and long jump were part of the meet, as athletes with disabilities displayed their talents, and how unphased they are by such limitations.

Various athletes ended up splitting the $10,000 purse, with the likes of shot-putter Jorge Tarazon, earning a $750 share, and fellow shot-putter Stephanie Timmer, earning $450, based on how well each individual placed in his respective competitions.

Sophomore track and field runner Carissa Saenz was one of many in attendance who was assisting in the event, and was not only impressed by the performances given by these athletes from across the world, but inspired.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s crazy how they can compete or run faster than people who don’t have any disabilities. It’s really cool.”

Timmer was a part of the shot-put event, and although she claims that her performance was not up to par with previous competitions, she is content and happy with how the event was constructed.

“It was great. For a smaller event, an inaugural event, it was really great. The coaches were great, and I couldn’t complain about the weather either. It was fun.”

Timmer’s achievements in Paralympic competitions alone are impressive enough, as she was recently a part of the 2012 London Paralympic Games, but the fact that she is blind, along with fellow shot-putter Jorge Tarazon. Both are able to compete without allowing themselves to be hindered by such limitations, and this instills inspiration.

“I hold the American records in shot-put and the javelin,” she said. “This is kind of the offseason right now, so we don’t get to do a lot of training. We come here to see how we’re doing throughout the winter.”

Tarazon was able to break one of his personal records in the shot-put, despite being in the offseason.

He said, “I like the whole aspect about friends throwing against each other and competing. It’s a real big event for it being the first time. I think it was about 90 people, so I’m looking forward to coming back next year.”

According to Christopher Richardson, cross country and track and field director, the event originally was not supposed to be held at Cerritos College, but in San Diego, however scheduling conflicts caused the event to be moved.

“We got a lot of really great competitors. It’s the first one, so it’s kind of inaugural. We’re trying to raise awareness and keep things going.

“It’s been fortunate that, not only athletes, but students that we’ve mentioned it to, have helped out with this event. So, we have a lot of people from the community coming out and giving support.”

Richardson went on to say that the purpose of this event was to promote a type of awareness for the Paralympic athletes that were present at the competition.

“I knew some people at the Olympic training center and (it) mentioned our facility, so we’re fortunate enough to work out some dates.

“It was kind of strange because we have the cross country state championships coming up, and the week prior we had the regional championships, so this is kind of the only weekend that was available.

“This is the last disabled, or Paralympic event, of this year, so it’s pretty cool. It’s fun to watch.”

As all the Paralympic athletes have come together for one event, the relentless and tenacious work they have displayed has become infectious.

“I think a lot of our athletes (cross country runners) are enjoying a lot of these (Paralympic) athletes persevere and go through these challenges, and still have the energy, the passion and the fight to become really competitive and excel at this sport.”

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