US Athletes Without Limits Head to Italy for Global Games
September 1, 2011 – Athletes Without Limits, a nonprofit dedicated to helping athletes with intellectual disability integrate and accelerate in sport, is proud to announce a strong US National team for the 2011 INAS Global Games. The Games are the world championship for athletes with intellectual disability and a key qualifier in Swimming, Track & Field for London 2012 Paralympic Games. Athletes Without Limits will be leading a team of six athletes to Liguria, Italy, for the prestigious international event that takes place every 4 years in the year before the Paralympics.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) decision to reinclude athletes with intellectual disability in Paralympic competition opens new doors for elite athletes in world-class competition and makes this year’s Global Games a truly historic event. The world championships will include at least 1500 athletes from 50 countries competing in sports ranging from cycling to swimming to rowing.
Like the Olympics, each Global Games sport is officiated by and run according to the rules of the sport’s international governing body, including drug testing. Medals will be awarded to the top 3 overall finishers in each event, as there are no special divisions.
“We are thrilled to be leading such a talented team of athletes to represent our country at the World Championships for athletes with intellectual disability,” said Barry Holman (Washington, DC) head coach of the US Team and co-founder of Athletes Without Limits. “At Athletes Without Limits, we are committed to helping US athletes integrate and accelerate in sport, achieving the highest possible level of competition. We understand what sports mean to our athletes, and work day in and day out to help them achieve their highest goals and support them in their efforts to represent the United States in the Paralympic Games.”
The following are the US team members qualified for Global Games:
- Syd Lea (Taneytown, MD) – Cycling. Lea is a competitive Cat 4/5 cyclist in non-disabled road, track, and cyclocross events and is the first and only US medalist at a Global Games. He is also a member of the Athletes Without Limits Rowing Team and has competed successfully in Cross Country. He returns to the 2011 Global Games with hopes of becoming the first US World Champion in the 4-day stage race through Liguria, Italy. A graduate of Francis Scott Key High School, Lea is currently employed as a groundskeeper at Mount St. Mary’s University and often rides his bike 30+ miles to and from work as part of his training. Lea comes from a family of elite athletes including his bother, Bobby Lea, a professional cyclist who was a member of the 2008 Olympic Track Cycling Team.
- Michael Murray (Nashville, TN) – Track and Field. Murray runs the 1500m in 4:10 and is the first athlete with intellectual disability to make the US Paralympic Team in over a decade. He does most of his training with the Nashville Illusions Track Club, where he competes regularly against non-disabled runners. When asked for an inspirational quote for his 2011 Paralympic Track & Field profile he offered “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
- Leslie Cichocki (Palos Hills, IL) – Swimming. Cichocki, 22, received her Paralympic eligibility on May 20 and began setting INAS Americas Regional records the very next day at the GTAC Paralympic meet in Ohio. At that meet, she met the international qualification standards for 10 swimming events, including the very challenging 200 butterfly. A swimmer since age 4, Cichocki is also involved in an independent living curriculum at Morain County Community College, and enjoys extracurricular activities including bowling, cross country skiing, coaching and volunteering to help athletes with special needs.
- Sara Gilbert (Jacksonville, FL) – Swimming, Rowing. Gilbert is a multi-sport athlete (swimming and rowing) who began swimming at the age of 7 and hasn’t looked back. She trains with and competes against nondisabled swimmers as part of the North Florida Swim Club and qualified in 4 events for the 2011 Global Games Team. NOTE: At the Global Games, 150 swimmers will compete in a total of 42 events; the US swimmers will compete in 12 races each over four days. In order to enter, they had to meet high qualification standards. For example, the minimum qualifying time for the women’s long course 50m Freestyle is 39 seconds, while the current INAS record in that event is an impressive 29 seconds.
- Bruce Worley (Columbia, MD) – 10,00m run, Rowing. Bruce will compete in the 10,000m distance run at the Athletics World Championships. Bruce is also a member of the Athletes Without Limits/DC Strokes Rowing Team in Washington DC, and will compete at the indoor rowing championships also being held at the Global Games.
- Mark Worley (Columbia, MD) – 10,000m run, Rowing. Mark will compete in the 10,000m distance run at the Athletics World Championships. Bruce is also a member of the Athletes Without Limits/DC Strokes Rowing Team in Washington DC, and will compete at the indoor rowing championships also being held at the Global Games.
The US delegation will be led by Athletes Without Limits co-founders, Head Coach & Swim Coach Barry Holman and Team Manager & Rowing Coach Julie Holman, along with Athletics Coach Andrew Reynolds. Several parents and relatives also plan to travel with the team in support of the athletes.
“Our delegation has doubled since the 2009 Games, but we still have a lot of work to do to grow the US program.” said Julie Holman, Team Manager and Athletes Without Limits co-founder. “Being at the Global Games in 2009, watching the professional level at which the top athletes in the world train and compete has been such an inspiration. Athletes with intellectual disability are capable of competing at the highest levels of sport — even by nondisabled standards — and Athletes Without Limits is determined to see more US athletes competing in mainstream sport, World Championships, the Global Games, and the Paralympics.”
The athletes will compete in US Team technical wear sponsored by Champion System, a custom apparel provider whose innovative process helps teams of all sizes throughout the world look like professionals in cycling, running, triathlon, rowing and other sports. The US Team is still seeking a swimwear partner to provide FINA-approved race suits for the two US swimmers.
The results of all the competitions including video, photos, and medal counts will be posted throughout the week at http://www.globalgames2011.it/