Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
Summers Streets NYC Wheelchair Basketball Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   
Wheelchair Basketball players from New York and New Jersey hosted clinics for people in New York City at Summer Streets in Lafayette Park on 3 consecutive Saturdays in August 2016.  Thanks to the players from the Brooklyn Nets, Bulova Nets and Nassau Kings Wheelchair Basketball Teams, hundreds of people saw and tried out Wheelchair Basketball.  Thanks to the help of NYC Department of Transportation and NYC Parks Department, the exhibitions were a big hit on some very hot days.
 
 
North Jersey Navigators Compete in Junior Track & Field National Championships in WI Print E-mail
Written by John Hamre   

 

The North Jersey Navigators’ performance at the 2016 Junior Nationals Championships in Wisconsin was outstanding!!.  They brought 14 athletes to the Junior Nationals and the team netted 146 medals (105 Gold, 27 Silver, and 14 Bronze).  They also set 18 new national records and once again placed 1st on the Large Team category.  This is the result of all our hard work; dedication and commitment to the North Jersey Navigators Paralympic Sport Program.

 

In addition, one of their junior elite athletes, Miguel Jimenez-Vergara, was selected as member of the Junior USA Team that participated last month at the 2016 IWAS World Junior Games in Prague.  Miguel won 8 Medals (7 Gold and 1 Silver) and won the 2016 IWAS Outstanding Athlete Award.   Also, one of their elite athletes, Gianfranco Iannotta, was selected as a member of the USA Paralympic Team that will be participating next month at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.  Gianfranco is currently ranked #2 in the world in the 100 meters for the T52 class.  The Navigators coaching staff is extremely pleased with the way the team members continue to improve and excel in adaptive sports and we are very proud of our accomplishments competing at national and International levels.  Special thanks to all the volunteers and to Jimmy Cuevas who works tirelessly for the team each year.

 

Check out the Team on their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/nothjerseynavigators/

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 22:07
 
NYC Wheelchair Tennis Teaching Professional - Honored Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   

September 29, 2016

 

The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) honored those members who stand out and go above and beyond in all aspects of the tennis industry at the 2016 USPTA World Conference this week. USPTA, the world’s oldest and largest association of tennis-teaching professionals, recognized tennis coaches, industry leaders and volunteers during its annual national awards presentation at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, California.

 

Aki Wolfson, recipient of the USTA/USPTA Community Service Award, with Chuck Gill (left) and Mike McNulty
Aki Wolfson, recipient of the USTA/USPTA Community Service Award, with Chuck Gill (left) and Mike McNulty

 

Aki Takayama-Wolfson (Flushing, N.Y.) received the USTA/USPTA Community Service Award for her contributions to her community through tennis, presented annually by the United States Tennis Association as part of the USPTA’s awards program.  Mrs. Takayama-Wolfson has been dedicated to the teaching and promotion of Wheelchair Tennis for over 20 years at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York.  She is also the first and continuing Tennis Director for the annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament since it's inception in 2001 and will be going into it's 17th year.

 

Congratualations Aki!  Well deserved.  

 

For more information on 2016 USTA/USPTA Awards, go to -  http://uspta.com/default.aspx/act/newsletter.aspx/category/USPTA+Latest+News/MenuGroup/HOME/NewsLetterID/1169/startrow/2.htm?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 19:26
 
Closing Ceremony - 2016 Rio Paralympics Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Fireworks over the roof during the Closing Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracanã Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil , Sunday 18th September 2016. Photo: Simon Bruty for OIS/IOC.  Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

By Orge Castellano   September 19, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO – The first Paralympic Games ever celebrated in South America finished with an impressive closing ceremony at Maracanã Stadium, infused with a burst of colors and spectacular music performances that set the carnivalesque and farewell atmosphere only Brazilians could bring.

It was invitation to taste and feel all the sounds, all the colors and tones from different parts of the country. On Sunday, the 11-day spectacle came to an end with athletes and fans gathering at the stadium. As the rain poured down, it seemed as if Rio’s sky was crying over the games being passed onto to Tokyo.

The 2016 Rio games left us with many memorable moments and overall, it was an impressive event despite previous concerns about its quality or feat due to budget cuts, Zika virus and security. The games have been a successful event surrounded by astonishing feats of athleticism and in general, extraordinary talented athletes.

Spectators enjoyed a quite peaceful atmosphere; something many were concerned about. Just a month ago, the organizing committee was in a dark cloud over the lack of funding and delays in some of their duties.

One thing is for sure though, this year´s edition of the Paralympics, which marked its 15th year, was clouded with major controversies and with full of criticism beginning with the ban of the Russian delegation and some other athletes being harshly suspended for anti-doping violations. A drop in ticket sales threatened the success of the game, but later, officials announced that tickets were in fact sold out for many of the games. Both the organizing committee and the Brazilian people proved that there weren’t challenges difficult enough that would interfere with the success of the games, and they decided that nothing was going to bring their spirit down.

“The Brazil we love so much has shown the world what it can do. The impossible happened. And today here we are, at this historical moment, ending a magical era. Brazilian people displayed reliability, courage, verve and much resolve. Brazilians never give up,” said Carlos Nuzman, the president of the Organizing Committee, at closing ceremony.

After 11 days of incredible competitions there’s one thing that became an important element of the games: the crowds. They were energetic, ecstatic and cheered for everyone with emotion and passion, not just Brazil. They brought the dance moves with them to every venue. They celebrated the Paralympic movement, its social inclusion and embraced with open arms, the extraordinary prowess of the athletes.

“Marvelous Cariocas, you warmly embraced these Games and took the athletes to your hearts; the noise you created, the passion you shared, the warmth you provided inspired Paralympians to achieve what some thought impossible. You made the Paralympics your Games, the People’s Games, and we will forever cherish our time spent with you,” said Sir Phillip Craven on his closing ceremony speech.

As Rio officially became a Paralympian city, the IPC awarded the Cariocas and the Brazilian people the honor of being members of the Paralympian Movement. It’s the highest award a group of people can receive from the Paralympic movement. The athletes were also praised and honored in the ceremony with the IPC president adding:

“Paralympians, you are role models for what the world wants to see in today’s sporting heroes. You see obstacles as opportunities, you fight for your rights and here in Rio, you have a unique opportunity to make for a more equitable world. Your values tell people what you stand for and most importantly who you are.”

The Paralympic movement is defined by its legacy: the one that its left to every host country. Brazil won’t be an exemption. Even though as a developing country, it still faces major challenges in offering more inclusion for disabled people, Brazilians across the country will see an increase in their quality of life thanks to the pilot infrastructure built for the games that would ultimately impact and improve their lives and daily situations. Hopes are that it is going to be carried and executed across the whole nation.

As the ceremony came to a close, the Sir Phillip Craven’s message was loud and clear: “An invitation for us to never forget to broaden our senses, to look at differences as sheer power, to build a world designed for all. A party to celebrate universal love.”

 
The Epitome Of Determination Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
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By Orge Castellano  October 8, 2016

The road was slightly wet when the crowd arrived at Pontal, an early cloudy grey sky above was silently threatening to ruin the day – but in Brazil the sunshine comes out no matter what-. The crowds surrounded the cycling path patiently waiting for the riders to pass, most of them only will see a rapid flash swapping in from of their eyes, barely would they see the competitor’s face, but that’s enough, people of Brazil never get to see action like this so close and many have never seen Paralympians compete at all. For many, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. The racers are easily distinguished by their patriotic colors: red and yellow for China, green and red for the Italians, the Team USA racers clad in a proud red, white, and blue. Two Americans were scheduled to compete at the men’s road race C1-2-3. Cyclist superstar and previous Paralympic champion Joe Berenyi was ready, but newcomer Billy Lister, making his Paralympic debut in Rio, was nowhere to be seen. The buzzer sounded and the cyclists aggressively pedaled away from the board showing DNS [Did Not Start] next to Billy’s name. Some USA fans clung to the fences not far from stunned and confused members of the press. Where’s this racer? Why did he not start?

Billy, as everybody calls him, has always been a fighter, multifaceted athlete, and constantly opened to new challenges, willing to start from scratch again and again. In addition to athletic ability, he has a major gift of being able to reinvent himself; but reinvention itself usually comes at a high price. At 15, Billy wasn’t expecting his life to be dramatically changed overnight in a 180 degree spin that left him a different person. He spent weeks receiving treatment in a hospital bed for something the teenager had never heard of, but quickly became an intrinsic part of him. He was diagnosed with a rare and incisive brain abnormality known as an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) that in most cases needs to be corrected through extensive and acute Stereotactic Radiosurgery. The procedure was a success, but roughly three months later Billy experienced severe swelling in his brain, and he suffered what his doctors and parents had been fearing the most, a stroke. He could hardly walk nor move with ease due to a full left side hemiparesis.  Frustration grew as simple tasks, like holding a cup or getting dressed, became increasingly burdensome. He noticed his life moving dramatically backwards. “Whereas most strokes are sudden bursts of light, mine was a slow and regressive process” he says.

Billy refused to be stopped and continued attending sport practices and playing with his team. He was not defeated; stubborn, refused to be held back, and eventually received the scholastic award from his classmates due to his sportsmanship and friendliness. His physical conditions, though, were slowly reaching a more severe state. Unable to practice able-bodied sports anymore, he worked to accept his new condition, it was time for a ‘rebirth’ as he calls it. Young dreams were fatally crashed in a matter of weeks, but the human spirit is an abstract thing with a mind that revolves conscious and unconscious spectrums.

Billy was coping with his disability, surviving everyday, but he wasn’t living his life to its fullest. The only way he could grapple with his new condition was through something he was very accustomed to – sports-. No abnormality was going to thwart Billy’s aspirations. Yet, the unforgivable factor of time took an almost 12 year pause after the stroke as Billy worked to re-discover himself. Nothing happens in life by mistake, and when those supposed mistakes turn out to be strengths one’s inner strength can be peacefully realized. These hurdles make a person who they shaping their live. Billy said to life and to himself  “bring on the mistakes, because I’m more than ready.”

Billy has always been the athletic type, playing soccer in high school and experimenting with different recreational ones, whether the basketball team, baseball or track and field. Growing up, he knew sports were ingrained deeply inside him.

“Sports is what I love to do, it’s what I enjoy the most, and being active and athletic. It’s part of my personality, of my physical nature.”

Sometimes what is needed to prepare oneself for life’s next life stages is time, and in 2009 Billy audaciously re-ignited his true-self and found adapted sports. Through acquaintances and the Wheelchair Sports Federation, he did not hesitate to begin practicing sled hockey. Then in 2011 he attended a Paratriathlon camp through the Challenged Athletes Foundation. He continued with triathlon for almost two years until he couldn’t run anymore and needed to switch to a new sport.

“I realized that it was challenging for me, and of course in Triathlon running is an important aspect.”

In 2013 Billy rediscovered cycling after friends introduced him to a high performance cyclist coach working with the US Paralympics. Billy went to San Diego in March 2013 for a selection process, where he excelled more than had been anticipated.

“I had a disposition and a proclivity to it. I realized that I was pretty good at it, and then it hit me I could become a professional athlete.”

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Billy takes on the track on his 3000M Individual Pursuit time trial C1 SEPT, 9, 2016. Photo by Michael A. Clubine

Something in him clicked. He inherently knew that no matter the strenuous up-and-downs he would become a pro athlete and decided to give it his all, to strengthen this talent coming organically out of him. The national championships came, then the world cups, and he was getting ahead, so he gave his dedication to the Paralympic trials. In November 2013 he competed at the US Indoor Track Para Cycling National Championships and, having only ridden a track bike twice in his life, became a National Champion in the Men’s C2 Division, the three kilometer Individual Pursuit and the one kilometer Time Trial. He was leaving other incredulous athletes and the public – most of them unaware of his existence -aghast with surprise and filled with amazement. In January 2015 he started exclusively training in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. He was ready for the Paralympics.

Billy was scheduled to compete in four events in Rio de Janeiro: the Men’s C1 3000m Individual Pursuit Qual on Sept 9th, the men’s C1-2-3 1000m Time Trial on Sept. 10th, the men’s Time Trial C1 on Sept. 14th all of them in the Rio Olympic Velodrome and the men´s road race on Sept. 16th  outside the Olympic park in the Cycling road in Pontal. He trained hard for this moment and attended with discipline every training session at the Velodrome, in the heart of the Olympic Park located in Barra de Tijuca at the shores of Rio de Janeiro. He was set to face difficult competitors from around the world, all of them after that desired prize, a Paralympic medal and recognition for their efforts determination. Billy came with a goal in mind, to taste the playfield and experience the Paralympics. But competition was fierce and Billy was unable to claim a medal. At his last race Billy had to be pulled out due to an injury on his left elbow sustained by a crash he suffered the previous day, right before his time trial where he came in 5th.

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Billy Lister testing the Omega timing system at training SEPT 6, 2016. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

“I had a bike crash on my way to the start line on Wednesday morning and fractured my left elbow, fully displaced at the radial head with a splinter through the joint. I still went and raced, and finished 5th overall which is a reasonable result given I was riding on a broken arm”  

Unconcerned, he knows Rio wasn’t his only opportunity at the Paralympics, and that his driving force and undeniable dogged determination will continue to rise in future competitions.

“I have high aspirations for Tokyo in 2020—Rio 2016 is not my only shot. I’ve got a long future in Paralympic cycling.”

Whether it’s in Rio de Janeiro, at high-top championships, or the Olympic Training Center in the Colorado Springs, Billy is determined to go where triumph is guaranteed and undaunted from the intense-hardcore training sessions. He’s not afraid of defeat and will outwit his own body to the last drop.

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Billy competes on the 3000M Individual Pursuit final C1 SEPT, 9, 2016. Photo by Michael A. Clubine

Billy is spurred on to greater efforts; it’s a quintessential element of sports and a growth feature not to be ignored or underestimated. He knows everything comes with a high level of discipline and hard work. Sports are an ingrained part of his life and this Paralympian will continue to best athletes in future international competition.

 
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