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Paralympic Athletes Go for Gold in ‘Medal Quest’

Anjali Forber-Pratt/ Photo Courtesy of WGBH ‘Medal Quest’

In just one week, 4,000 athletes from 150 countries will compete at the London Paralympic Games, which open on August 29 and run through September 9. Our partners at WGBH have been following the U.S. athletes as they train for the event this summer. Here are some highlights of their coverage.

Engineering a Paralympian

From carbon-fiber prosthetic Cheetah legs to ultra lightweight titanium wheelchairs, the latest technologies are revolutionizing the way paralympians compete.

Watch TITANIUM CHAIRS AND CHEETAH LEGS on PBS. See more from Medal Quest.

Athletes to Watch

Blake Leeper

Being born without lower legs hasn’t stopped Blake Leeper from Churchill, Tenn. He ran cross-country and played baseball and basketball in middle and high school. At 19 years old, he won gold in the 100m, 200m, and 400m at the 2009 Endeavor Games — all in a single afternoon. Now he is currently ranked second in the world for running the 100 meters.

Jessica Long

Long was born missing most of the bones in her lower legs and feet. She joined her first competitive swim team at the age of 10. Just two years later she launched on to the sports scene in 2004 when she won three gold medals at the Athens Paralympics.
She is still the only athlete with a disability to win the AAU Sullivan Award, given to the nation’s top amateur athlete, and was named Swimming Magazine’s Disabled Swimmer of the Year.

Coolest Sport You’ve Never Heard Of

Many of the Paralympic sports are familiar: tennis, track and field, swimming. But one that you’re less likely to have heard of is Goalball. Goalball was invented in 1946 to help rehabilitate blind veterans from World War II and it’s the only team sport developed exclusively for the visually impaired.

Here’s how it works: All players have to wear blind folds and silence is required during the game. Each team has three players a match spans two 12-minute halves of play. Athletes must throw the ball into the opponent’s goal while blocking shots on their own goal. The U.S. Women’s Goalball team won Gold in the 2010 Paralympics and many are betting on them again this year.

Be sure to check out all of WGBH’s “Medal Quest” coverage of the 2012 American athletes at the Paralympic Games.

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