BLIND RUNNER MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO PARIS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Visually-impaired athlete Joe Aukward, 41, of Bethesda, Maryland, won the 1500 meter race at Glenarden Track Club's all-comers indoor track meet at Prince George's Sports and Learning Center on Sunday, February 24.
Aukward's time of 4:57.25 bested the qualifying standard of 5:00 for 1500 meters for blind runners hoping to run the World Championship Games for Physically-Challenged Athletes in Paris, France, in July 2002.
"About 75 physically-challenged runners with various abilities have broken the qualifying time," explained Aukward, who runs alongside a fully-sighted runner on a wrist tether. "The U.S. sends its top 45 athletes, drawn from blind and visually-impaired, wheelchair, amputee, cerebral palsy, dwarf, paraplegic, quadriplegic, and other variously-abled athletes. Each category has its own qualifying times. Team members are chosen from the athletes who finish closest to the world records and the first three places in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics in their events in their categories."
Aukward can improve his qualifying time and thus his chances of making the team in Potomac Valley Association's indoor track championship meet Saturday, March 16, at Episcopal High School in Alexandria; in Potomac Valley Track Club's outdoor meets on Sundays, April 28 and May 12, at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria; and in other meets between now and May 15, the last day of the qualifying period. "On May 15, I'll know whether I get the privilege of representing the U.S. at the Games," said Aukward.
Aukward was an alternate at U.S. at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta and represented the U.S. the 1998 World Paralympic Games in Madrid, Spain, and the 1999 Pan-Am Games in México City.
1500 Meter Race
1. Joe Aukward, 41, Bethesda MD, 4:57.25
2. Andrew Eden, 11, Annapolis MD, 5:20.87
3. Jay Jacob Wind, 52, Arlington VA, 5:31.27
4. Larry Hart, 51, Mechanicsville MD, 5:34.63
5. Paige Flanagan, 16F, Annapolis MD, 5:36.95
6. Peter Blank, 47, Annandale VA, 6:23.37
1600 Meter Race
1. Jim Ehrenhaft, 36, Washington DC, 4:48.10
2. Joshua Johns, 19, Odenton MD, 5:02.05
3. Troy Egan, 36, Waldorf MD, 5:09.17
4. Jay Jacob Wind, 52, Arlington VA, 5:38.50
5. Daryal Spencer, 46, Clinton MD, 5:56.20
6. Peter Blank, 47, Annandale VA, 6:11.02