Dennis Sets New American Record in Shot Put!

Four American records fall on day one of the 2011 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships

By: Beth Bourgeois

Four new American records were set on day one of the 2011 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, Fla. The competition features more than 150 athletes with a physical or visual disability from around the world. It is also the qualifying event for U.S. athletes to be selected for the team that will compete at the 2011 Parapan American Games which will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, November 12-20, 2011.

“It was a great first day,” said Team USA Head Coach and Director of Paralympic Track & Field High Performance, Cathy Sellers. “Athletes stepped up to the plate and really competed hard, and we’re seeing the results in the number of London A standards we had. All four new American records were previous held by the athletes who set them, which means they’re showing consistent improvement. We are on-track and I’m excited to see what the rest of the weekend holds.”

Among the athletes with standout performances was Dennis Ogbe (Louisville, Ky.), who set a new American record in the men’s shot put (F58) by throwing a distance of 13.32m. Ogbe set his previous record in January at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.

But the American record isn’t enough for Ogbe, who, besides being named to Team USA for the 2011 Parapan American Games, has set a second goal for himself.

“I’m very happy with my performance today, but know I can do more,” said Ogbe. “My goal is to throw 14 meters. I don’t care if it’s 14-point-zero or 14-point-one, I just wanted to get to 14 meters, and I believe I can do it.”

U.S. Paralympian Jeremy Campbell (Edmond, Okla.) also bettered his previous American record in the men’s combined class (40/24/43/44) discus. Campbell threw 55.65m, finishing in second place to Daniel Greaves of Great Britain, who set a new world record throw of 59.85m.

Two-time U.S. Paralympian and world record high jumper Jeff Skiba (Chula Vista, Calif.) finished in third place in the event with a best throw measuring 48.78m.

In women’s competition, Zena Cole (Oregon, Ohio) had an impressive day by setting two new American records. In the women’s discus (F51), she registered a throw of 5.59m.

Catherine Callahan (San Antonio, Texas), who also competed in the women’s discus (F57) finished with a throw of 25.45m, and was followed in third place by Heather Haynie (Zephyrhillis, Fla./F57), who finished with a best throw of 21.91m.

Cole set her second, new American mark in the women’s club throw event with a distance of 12.16m.

Other standout performances included that of three-time Paralympian Adam Bleakney (Savoy, Ill.), who won the men’s wheelchair 800m (T53) in 1:45.87. Bleakney, who is the head coach of the University of Illinois wheelchair racing team, is not only racing at the competition, but also coaching his athletes at the same time. That includes Brian Siemann (Champaign, Ill.) who finished just behind his coach in second place with a time of 1:45.92. Jose Pulido (Clarksville, Ga.) took third place honors with a time of 1:58.60.

In the women’s 800m (T54), Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.) dominated the competition finishing in first place in 1:53.40. Shelly Woods of Great Britain came in second in 1:59.86. Third place finisher Amberlynn Weber (Spokane, Wash.) crossed the line in 2:03.40. Fifteen year old Hannah McFadden (Clarksville, Md.), the younger sister to Tatyana McFadden, came in fourth with a time of 2:16.97.

In the women’s combined class (T51/52/53) 800m, two-time U.S. Paralympian Shirley Reilly (Tucson, Ariz.) had a strong showing finishing in first place in 2:02.46. She was followed by three-time U.S. Paralympian Jessie Galli (Savoy, Ill.), who followed right on Reilly’s heels in 2:02.89. Francesca Porcellato of Italy came in third in 2:03.28.

David Prince (Brandon, Fla.) also had a strong showing in the men’s 200m (T42/43/44) race, finishing in first place in 23.01. Blake Leeper, who recently moved to Chula Vista, Calif. to live and train at the Olympic Training Center as part of the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field Resident Program, finished in second place in 23.84, followed by Joshua Kennison (South Paris, Maine) in third – 24.02.

Compete results from the 2011 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships can be found online.  The competition continues through Sunday.

For all the latest Team USA news and updates, visit www.USParalympics.org.