“A lot of people, especially in the States, don’t know much about the Paralympics, so we just have to educate them. That’s why I’m out here, to show them an American blade runner."
Sprint star Blake Leeper hit the headlines in the USA over the weekend (13-15 February) by becoming the first Paralympian to take part in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in Madison Square Garden, New York.
The double below knee leg amputee T43 athlete, who is expected to star at August’s Toronto Parapan American Games in Canada and October’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, lined up alongside the likes of comedians Nick Cannon and Kevin Hart, actor Michael Rapaport and WNBA stars Tina Charles and Shoni Schimmel.
“I’m going to show the world something they’ve never seen before,” Leeper told US Paralympics prior to the game.
“A lot of people, especially in the States, don’t know much about the Paralympics, so we just have to educate them. That’s why I’m out here, to show them an American blade runner.
“I hope being in New York this weekend opens a lot of people’s eyes and that the world knows about U.S. Paralympics and will look to see who else is out there.”
In 14 minutes on the court, the former high school varsity basketball player had a three-pointer, two rebounds, three assists and three steals. His East squad, coached by New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and NBA Cares Ambassador Isaiah Austin, lost however 57-51 to the West.
Following his starring role, the 25-year-old will now turn his attention to the 2015 IPC Athletics season where he will be looking to add to his already impressive medal collection.
At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Leeper won 400m T44 silver, and added three individual silvers in the sprints at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, France. He was also part of the world record breaking US team that won the world title in the 4x100m T42-46 relay.
October’s event in Doha will be Leeper’s third World Championships and he hopes to use it as a stepping stone to success at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“The last Paralympic Games, I took a silver and bronze, but there was just so much going on around me, it was a lot to handle,” Leeper, who is coached by Al Joyner, told US Paralympics. “But this time, in Rio, it’s going to be a business trip. I’m going there to win some gold medals for my country.”
Leeper is set to be one of 1,300 athletes from 90 countries who competes at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, between 22-31 October. Prior to that however he will hope to represent Team USA at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games between 7-15 August.