“That’s part of what I love about sport in general. Faster, higher, stronger. That’s kind of just how things evolve.”
The USA’s Anjali Forber-Pratt was thrilled to compete in a Grand Prix event in London last month, as it gave her a taste of the growing excitement for next summer’s Paralympic Games.
Around the British capital, she saw Paralympic logos and posters plastered everywhere previewing London 2012, and that is when it really hit her that there is just one year to go until the Games.
It is all starting to sink in now.
“It was just exciting to be there. There’s already so much hype behind the Games,” Forber-Pratt said.
“To me, it was starting that reality of, ‘Oh my gosh, this is coming.’”
The T53 American wheelchair racer is hitting the prime of her career at just the right time, as shown at January’s IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand where she took home a gold and three silvers.
“Coming off of a gold medal and three silvers at the World Championships and a world record this season, I feel like I’m in a very good place and exactly where I want to be going into the Games,” Forber-Pratt said.
She has taken some time off this summer to “ocean hop,” including a visit to Bonn, Germany, for the IPC’s VISTA Conference and a trip to Hawaii for a friend’s wedding.
Now, back at the University of Illinois, Forber-Pratt is juggling training, working toward her doctorate degree in Human Resource Education and teaching six online classes.
She will not be competing in the Parapan American Games in Guadalajara in November, saving all of her energy for the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Trials next June in Miramar, Florida.
At 27, Forber-Pratt said it feels different one year out from London than it did prior to Beijing 2008, where she won two bronze medals.
She is no longer worried about who she will be facing in London. She is just focusing on herself.
“There’s a balance between knowing who your competitors are and not letting that overwhelm you and distract you,” Forber-Pratt said.
“With wheelchair racing, you can’t worry too much about your competitors. I’m there to do my race. It’s me and that start line and that finish line.”
However, Forber-Pratt actually knows some of her opponents very well, as she trains with them on a daily basis. A total of 16 wheelchair racers train with coach Adam Bleakney at the University of Illinois, including the likes of Paralympic Games medallists Tatyana McFadden, Jessica Galli and Josh George.
Aside from her fellow Americans, she said her other top competitors in London will be the Australians and the Chinese.
And she knows they will be much tougher to beat in 2012 than in 2008.
“Their times have gotten faster for sure,” Forber-Pratt said. “That’s part of what I love about sport in general. Faster, higher, stronger. That’s kind of just how things evolve.”