USA Off to Quick Start in Christchurch

22 Jan 2011

Team USA got off to a quick start on the first day of competition at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships. In just the second race of the day, Amanda McGrory won gold in a rainy women’s 5,000m T54 event with a time of 12:52.41.

“I’m not generally very good in the rain, so I was nervous at the start of the race,” said McGrory. “Being able to push through the conditions to be successful makes this win that much bigger for me. It’s awesome to be the first American to win a medal here and I hope to see a lot of my teammates on the podium throughout the competition.”

Kristen Messer had a remarkable debut for Team USA. Racing in her first major international competition, Messer won a bronze medal in the 200m T33/34 with a time of 43.05.

“It feels awesome to win a medal,” said Messer. “I was able to pick up some good speed out there and ended up having a great race.”

Although this wasn’t the first time she took to the track for Team USA, Kerry Morgan did pick up her first ever world championships medal on Saturday. Morgan sped to a silver medal in the women’s 100m T52 in a time of 21.28. U.S. teammate Cheryl Leitner took fourth in the same event, finishing in 24.60.

“That’s the best 100m race I’ve ever run,” said Morgan. “Being on the podium is incredible. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of and now it’s come true.”

Finishing in fourth place, just outside the medals, in the men’s long jump T42 was U.S. Army veteran Kortney Clemons. This is the first major international competition for Clemons.

“It felt good to finally get out there and compete,” said Clemons. “I’m not far off from the other guys in my class, I just have a few technical things I need to work on and now I know where I need to be as I work toward the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.”

Much of the day’s competition featured preliminary round races, which saw six U.S. athletes advance to their event finals.

Making another impressive Team USA debut was 16 year old high school student Austin Pruitt. Pruitt won his heat of the men’s 200m T34 in 32.53 to move on to Sunday’s medal round.

“It’s good to have that first race out of the way,” said Pruitt. “I felt good out there and I have to just keep doing what I always do in order to be successful in the rest of my races.”

Three American teammates will square off in the women’s 100m T53 final as Anjali Forber-Pratt, Jessica Galli and Shirley Reilly all easily moved through the preliminary round. Forber-Pratt was the fastest of the three, qualifying with a time of 17.26.

“After all the training and preparation, it’s nice that we’re finally racing,” said Forber-Pratt. “I felt really strong from the start and I’m in a good position heading into the final on Sunday.”

In the first of her six events, Tatyana McFadden advanced to the 100m final in the T54 classification. McFadden moves on with a time of 16.79.

Jordan Bird won his heat and was the fastest qualifier in the men’s 800m T54, finishing with a time of 1:40.19. Bird will go head-to-head with world record holder Marcel Hug (SUI) in the final.