Photo by Emily Stone
CHICAGO – Today, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced it will host the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials – Marathon on the streets of Chicago on Sunday, October 11. America’s top athletes will race in the event’s professional elite wheelchair field to secure one of four spots on the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team.
“We are proud to host the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials and witness America’s best athletes compete for a chance to represent Team USA in Rio” said Carey Pinkowski, Executive Race Director. “With the Trials and the Chicago-New York Challenge, Chicago will be a focal point for disability sport this fall, and we are honored to play a role in elevating attention paid to these tremendous athletes.”
In addition to racing for a spot on Team USA, athletes will be competing against an international field vying for the championship of the first-ever Chicago-New York Challenge, which will serve as a prelude to the inaugural Abbott World Marathon Majors Wheelchair Series.
Chicago’s top two male and female American wheelchair finishers will be one step closer to earning a bid to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympic Games.
“Team USA’s wheelchair racers have a strong tradition of excellence in the marathon and we are excited to see our first track and field athletes punch their tickets to Rio on the streets of Chicago,” said Rick Adams, chief of Paralympic Sport and NGB Organizational Development. “The Chicago Marathon always puts on a world-class event for our athletes, and we know that they will serve as excellent hosts for our first Trials for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.”
“Each year, Chicago is honored to host incredible athletes competing at all levels in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon,” said Karen Tamley, the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “This year, we are proud to see an international spotlight on our city as wheelchair racers compete for an opportunity to represent the United States on a global stage.”
Headlining the American field are 2014 Chicago Marathon champions Tatyana McFadden and Josh George. McFadden and George, both hailing from the storied University of Illinois wheelchair racing team, will return to defend their titles and work towards securing their positions in the 2016 Paralympic Games.
The Paralympic Games are no stranger to George, 31, of Champaign, Illinois, who has taken home a total of four medals in Athens 2004 (bronze), Beijing 2008 (gold, silver), and London 2012 (bronze).
McFadden, 26, of Clarksville, Maryland, in three summer Paralympic Games appearances (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012) has captured three gold, four silver and three bronze medals. In 2014, McFadden diversified her skills when she broke into a new sport – cross-country skiing – for which she took home a silver medal at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, her first appearance at a Paralympic Winter Games.
“The competition in Chicago will be even more exciting this year with the addition of the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials and the Chicago-New York Challenge,” said Tatyana McFadden, 2014 Chicago Marathon Champion. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be in a position to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games, but to do it on what I consider my hometown course makes it all the more meaningful.”
Fellow U of I teammates are challenging McFadden and George for a spot on Team USA and competing for a Chicago win. Fourteen U of I athletes, including Amanda McGrory and Adam Bleakney, will compete in the trials.
For a complete roster of athletes competing in the Trials, go to chicagomarathon.