Sam Fariss sent me this piece a couple of weeks ago. I liked it, but I had forgotten about it, with the busy few weeks that we have had. I enjoyed this piece and like Sam Fariss’s belief that para-athletes need more chances to compete and be seen.
I applaud Nike Pre Classic for bringing Paralympians back to Eugene and hope that they continue for some time to come.
Hunter Woodhall and Tara Davis, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
Para-athletes participating in Prefontaine
By Sam Fariss
It has been over three decades since para-athletes have been invited to compete at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. At this year’s Diamond League circuit event, however, they are making their return to show that they deserve a spot in the meet schedule.
The Pre Classic, however, is not an anomaly within the track and field community as para-athletes continuously struggle to find events to enter themselves into throughout the season and are rarely invited to big stage events.
“I always tell individuals if you just watch one paralympic race, watch one paralympic event at the moment, you won’t even really care about the disability you’ll just see athletes out there competing, and you’ll become a fan for life,” said Blake Leeper.
At the Diamond League meet this year, para-athletes were invited to compete in the men’s 400m T62 as well as the women’s 100m T63. In para-athletics, the “T” prefix is used when referring to track and jump events which include running and wheelchair races as well as long jump and high jump.
While the athletes were invited to compete at the Pre Classic, the World Para Athletics Championships, which were supposed to be held in Japan, have been canceled. The International Paralympic Committee is currently working toward a plan to host the championships in 2024 – an even further delay from the event that was initially supposed to occur in 2021.
“This is one of the big things I was focusing on, and with the postponement or cancellation of the World Championships, I just want to focus on myself and re-find what I love about the sport and really dial in on why I do this,” said Hunter Woodhall.
Woodhall, who is engaged to long jump athlete Tara Davis, has created a platform for himself and his fiancé via social media which has helped to bring more attention and viewers to para-athletics as a whole.
Para-athletes deserve the same level of attention and respect that is given to other track and field athletes, and the media must give equal coverage to para-athletics. Like Leeper said, you’ll watch one paralympic event, and you’ll become a fan for life.