Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Do We Get to Rio?

I’m not sure how it is February 11th and this is my first post of 2016, but here you go…

This is it!  The next few months will determine whether Matt makes the U.S. Track and Field Team for the Rio Paralympics.  He’s fast, but we know his times need to be faster to be competitive.  He’s planning on running the “Run Your Heart Out 5K” on Sunday, but with temperatures estimated to be in the single digits, it probably won’t be a good indicator of the time he’ll run in Mesa, Arizona, at the Desert Games in May, or the National Championship in Charlotte in June.  Nonetheless, it will be good to get a race under his belt.  He hasn’t competed since the Race to End Women’s Cancer in November, unless you count him running with my bib minus the chip in a New Year’s Eve race because I was under the weather, or all of his snow shoveling during Snowzilla. 

So what does Matt need to do to wear red, white, and blue in Rio?  First, he needs to update the paperwork.  He received his International Paralympic Committee (IPC) classification at Mesa in 2014 and was classified as a T12 runner (which means he does not require a guide), but it is only valid for two years.  He will need to be reclassified in Mesa at the Desert Challenge Games.  He has an appointment with his neuro-ophthalmologist on Monday at 7am (way too early for a holiday Monday if you ask me) to update all of his medical forms, which basically means we need something that says that Matt is still visually impaired, but it hasn’t gotten better in two years and it hasn’t gotten worse.  He also needs to renew his IPC license.  The next piece is the actual running.  He needs to get a qualifying time for Nationals in an approved event.  Matt is working to have the Gallaudet University Invitational approved so that he can qualify for Nationals.  This year, he’ll race both the 1500 meter and 5000 meter events at Gallaudet.  If you recall, we were banking on him running in the University of Maryland open meet to get a qualifying time in the 1500, but apparently the “open meet” didn’t extend to someone visually impaired.  So let’s break down the numbers:

To be allowed to compete in Nationals, he needs to run the following:

1500 Meters: 5:00
5000 Meters:  18:30

You may be thinking that Matt will have no problem finishing in those times and you would be right.  BUT, now take a look at what he needs to run at Nationals to make the U.S. roster:

1500 meters
U.S. A Standard: 3:56
U.S. B Standard: 3:58
Rio A Standard: 4:07
Rio B Standard: 4:12

5000 meters
U.S. A Standard: 15:00
U.S. B Standard: 15:16
Rio A Standard: 15:40
Rio B Standard: 15:57

Um, okay, those are pretty fast.  Let me be upfront – Matt has NEVER run those times.  So you may be asking what is the difference between the U.S. Standards and the Rio Standards?  Good question.  Matt must meet the Rio B standard, but he could not meet the U.S. standards and still be invited to represent USA in Rio.  No mid-distance visually impaired runners met the U.S. standards in 2015, but some were still invited to compete on the U.S. team for international competitions.  The U.S. will have 48 slots for males at the games, with a max of three per event.  I am pasting in how the 48 men (and 32 females) are selected for the team:

·         All results for each eligible athlete will be given a percentage score. The score is calculated by comparing the athlete’s result from the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials-Track and Field to the 2016 National Team A standard for each event using the following formula.
o   Track events: (2016 National Team A / result) x 100
o   Field events: (result / 2016 National Team A) x 100
·         The percentage will be provided with two decimal points (to the one hundredth of a percent) with the highest percentage compared to the 2016 National Team A standard being the better result. Slots and start rights will be filled based on the Team Selection Ranking List (highest to lowest percentage) for the medal events scheduled to be contested at these Games in the following order:
o   Athletes who have achieved the AQS between 15 October 2015 and the completion of the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials-Track and Field.
o   Athletes who have achieved the BQS between 15 October 2015 and the completion of the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials-Track and Field.
o   Athletes who have achieved the AQS or BQS between 15 October 2014 and the completion of the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials-Track and Field. Nomination will continue until either all slots, by gender, have been filled or all eligible athletes who have achieved the BQS have been nominated to the team.

We are hoping he’ll qualify by having a really competitive time that is faster than the Rio qualifying times.  There are three categories of visually impaired runners – T11, T12, and T13—and each have their own qualifying times.  This year, the T12 class (which has less vision than a T13 runner, but more than a T11) must meet the same qualifying times.  It can change from year to year.

Here’s a snapshot of his upcoming races:

Run Your Heart Out 5K
February 14, 2016
Fairfax, VA

Gallaudet Invitational
March 26, 2016
Washington, DC

Crystal City 5K Fridays
April 8, 2016
Arlington, VA

Desert Challenge Games
May 11-15, 2016
Mesa, Arizona

StarKids 5k
To Be Determined – June 2016
Fairfax, VA

2016 U.S. Paralympic Team Trials-Track and Field
June 30-July 2, 2016
Charlotte, NC -- Johnson C. Smith University

It would be wonderful to have you out there with me cheering Matt on at any of these events.  It is a long shot, but why not try, right?  As much as I joke with Matt that I’d like to say I am married to an Olympian, I’m pretty sure he’d like to be an Olympian.  Your support and encouragement has helped make this possible.  And in case you are looking for a great cause to make a charitable, tax-deductible contribution to, please check out our donation tab for instructions here.  There are a lot of running shoes that will be bought before Rio, along with airfare and lodging.  Thanks again!