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Local athletes to compete at Paralympic trials

2012 Para­lympics in London run from August 29-Sept. 9

SAN ANTONIO - Nick McCoy trains like any other athlete.

"It's your will that gets you through it," said the former Army staff sergeant, who lost parts of both legs and severely injured his left arm in an IED explosion in Iraq in December 2006.

"When I'm out here on the track, I don't necessarily think about anything I have to overcome," he said.

He settles in to his racing wheelchair at the Wheatley Heights sports complex, getting ready for another grueling workout for his events, the 100M, 200M and 400M dashes. The Pennsylvania native is one of a handful of military transplants who have made San Antonio home and are working out at the complex hoping to make the US Paralympic team.

"I love competing like this. I love the competition, I love the camaraderie you get," said Kate Callahan, a paraplegic who's already competed at the world championships in discus, shot put and javelin after only two years of competing. "There is no reason to say no I can't."

A former track athlete in high school, Callahan was re-introduced to competition through her recreational therapy at the VA.

"When I went to my first event and saw the competition that there was actually athletes in chairs with disabilities and amputees and I was like, 'Wow! OK, I want to get to that level.'" adds Josue Lopez, a paraplegic who competes in regional events in the discus and javelin four to five times a year.

Most of the athletes are out here because of their competitive nature. The US Paralympic Track trials begin June 29 in Indianapolis and unlike the stadium they practice in, the one there will be full of cheering fans. Yet none of them do it for the cheers or accolades.

"The biggest thing is I get to represent my country again," said McCoy. "I get to wear a jersey that has the American flag on it. To me, that means everything. It's the world to me."

"I'd be wearing the USA uniform again which is something I miss from being in the service for 18 years," adds Callahan.

And while all three have already served their country, they hope to serve as inspiration again, this time to other disabled veterans.

"Everybody's got their shortcomings, disabilities," said McCoy. "Whether it be mental or physical, everybody's got a limitation."

"A lot of veterans are out there at home and they don't know that you can come out here and compete," added Lopez. "There might be some super athlete sitting at home that doesn't know that he can compete."

The 2012 Paralympics are in London and run August 29-Sept. 9.


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