“I think it’s always important that we get out in the community and demonstrate our sport to people that one, are supporters of us and two, people that know absolutely nothing about the sport.”
American Paralympic gold-medal winner April Holmes believes Team USA could have an advantage at January’s IPC Athletics World Championships after a successful visit to Christchurch, New Zealand earlier this year.
In March, Holmes together with a number of national teammates visited Christchurch to get a feel for the city, the stadium and its people during the New Zealand national championships. And, according to Holmes, who will be defending the 100m and 200m T44 world titles she won four years ago, the visit could give them the edge over competitors.
“A little run-through before the competition actually starts is always good,” Holmes told www.paralympic.org, the International Paralympic Committee’s website.
“We scoped out the different restaurants and things that some of the USA athletes can do in their downtime when they get there. The people there were just awesome and really helpful.”
In January, Holmes will be one of more than 1,000 athletes from 70 countries competing in the biggest ever IPC Athletics World Championships. And the 37 year old American believes it is important to not only hold the Championships outside of Europe for the first time but also spread the word about the Paralympic Movement.
“It think it’s always important for us to take events like this around the regions and the countries who have not had the opportunity to host such a large sporting event,” said Holmes who has set up her own Foundation to assist people with a disability to reach and fulfill their full potential.
“I think it’s always important that we get out in the community and demonstrate our sport to people that one, are supporters of us and two, people that know absolutely nothing about the sport,”
“It’s always important for us to be able to get out in different countries and compete so that people can see what people with disabilities can do and sort of erase the mindset of what some people think people with disabilities can do,” she added.
Injured in a train accident in January 2001, Holmes had to have her lower left leg amputated below the knee. It was during her time in hospital recovering from the accident that she learnt about Paralympic sport and set her goals for the future.
“The surgeon who did the emergency surgery, probably a week after my accident, told me about the Paralympics. And that’s when I started thinking about it in 2001,” said Holmes who was a keen 400m runner as a junior but gave up athletics after graduating from University.
“Then we went to Athens and I broke the world record in the 100m and 200m.”
It wasn’t just world records that Holmes broke at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games, she also won a bronze in the Long Jump (F44/46).
Two years later in Assen, the Netherlands Holmes claimed gold in both the 100m and 200m T44, and her time of 27.05 second in the latter of the two events was a new world record.
And then at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Holmes won gold again this time in the 100m in a time of 13.72 seconds, just 0.01 seconds ahead of French rival Marie-Amelle le Fur, a woman she will race against in Christchurch, in what should be one of the highlights of the Championships.
Other big names set to compete in Christchurch include ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius, Irish Sprinter and Fastest Paralympian on Earth Jason Smith and David Wier, the Brit who won this year’s New York marathon.