Michael Murray to Compete in IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand
Michael represents the first U.S. athlete with intellectual disability to compete at a Paralympic World Championship in over a decade with hopes of making Team USA for the London 2012 Games.
Washington, D.C. – Athletes Without Limits, a nonprofit supporting athletes with intellectual disability and Olympic dreams, announced that history is in the making, as U.S. runner, Michael Murray, 19, prepares to compete for Team USA at the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, January 22-30, 2011.
Murray, who hails from Nashville, TN, is is the first and only athlete with intellectual disability currently represented on the U.S. Paralympic team, and is one of 18 men and 8 women in the world to qualify for the newly opened 1500m T20 classification. The event marks the first time in over a decade that athletes with intellectual disability will compete in a Paralympic World Championship.
In a warm-up meet earlier this month at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia, Murray ran a blistering 2:03 800-meters to win a mixed-division race, putting him solidly in position as a T20 contender at the World Championships, and a hopeful for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“We are proud to stand behind Michael Murray as he paves the way for athletes with intellectual disability in the U.S.,” said Barry Holman, President and co-founder of Athletes Without Limits. “Michael’s story is truly inspirational, as Michael has already accomplished what most non-disabled individuals couldn’t even dream of. With the ongoing support of his family, his teammates and coach, and the U.S. Paralympic Committee, Michael is truly making his dreams become a reality and proving that with tenacity and a lot of hard work, amazing things can happen.”
In order to be on Team USA, an athlete had to qualify at the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field Nationals in June 2010. With the vote to re-include athletes with intellectual disability in Paralympic events taking place in November 2009, there was very little time for countries, and athletes, to understand rules and qualification procedures, and prepare for competition. Athletes Without Limits worked closely with athletes, their families, psychologists, and U.S. Paralympics staff to help get athletes through the process more easily and allow them to focus instead on training. Three athletes with intellectual disability participated at Nationals, and only one qualified – Michael Murray with an impressive 4:21 in the 1500m race.
Murray, who has been running since age 9, has been racing with the Nashville Illusions Track Club coached by Andrew Reynolds since 2000, and is competitive against non-disabled athletes in regional and national USA Track & Field meets. Michael has overcome extraordinary challenges but finds running allows him to focus on what’s ahead and live his personal mantra: “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
Read more about Michael, including links to his bios, race highlights and event information at www.athleteswithoutlimits.org. ParalympicSport.TV will cover the IPC Athletics T20 1500m heat live January 26 at 6:20pm EST.
Notes to Press:
Athletes Without Limits, the US member of INAS, is a nonprofit whose mission is to identify, develop and support athletes with intellectual disability and dreams of participating in high-level competitions in the US and abroad.
The International Federation for Sport for Athletes with an Intellectual Disability (INAS), is a founding member and one of four disability-specific sports federations that make up the (IPC), the global governing body of the Paralympic Movement.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is an international non-profit organization comprised of four disability sports federations and 167 National Paralympic Committees—including U.S. Paralympics — committed to enabling Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and to developing sport opportunities for all persons with a disability from the beginner to elite level. In addition, the IPC aims to promote the Paralympic values, which include courage, determination, inspiration and equality.