Runner invited to Paralympic team after meet

By Zachary Gregory

March 11, 2014

AKRON — Xenia Christian runner Grace Norman has been invited by the USA Paralympic Track & Field Committee to be part of the Paralympic team after her performance at the Indoor State Track Meet this weekend at the University of Akron.

The meet started with Xenia Christian’s 4x800 relay team made up of Rachel Sweeney, Mallory Stemple, Ariana Nelson and Norman running a season best 10:22 and placing 11th. The team shaved 16 seconds off their previous time, set a week before at Findlay University, in order to set the new personal record.

“Coaches and runners are satisfied with the performance as we believe the girls will have a good chance of going after an Outdoor State berth this spring in Division III track,” said Coach Lance Nelson in an e-mail.

Norman, the first amputee to qualify to a State event in Ohio, then performed in the 3200m race. She finished seventh in the two-mile race with a new season personal record of 12:04. According to the High Performance Director of the USA Paralympic Track & Field Committee, Norman’s time is the fastest recorded time for any female amputee recorded anywhere. She was in 10th place for most of the race, but pulled up a few places on the final straight away of the last lap, according to Coach Robin Norman.

“Grace has an extremely competitive drive, and if she can see her goal within her reach, she will always go for it, ” she said.

After the meet, Norman met with David Kirk, a representative from the USA Paralympic Committee. They spoke about running for Team USA Paralympic Track & Field in Rio 2016. According to Robin Norman, the committee would like Grace to run the 400m race, which is being added to the games in Rio for the first time.