U.S. Paralympic track & field team trains at RAF Lakenheath

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
More than 50 U.S. Paralympians and hopefuls are honing their skills and making final preparations at Royal AIr Force Lakenheath for competition in the London 2012 Paralympic Games  Aug. 18 through 25.

The installation has teamed with the U.S. Olympic Committee to provide the athletes with all they need to succeed in this year's games, including training facilities, access to lodging and meal accommodations, as well as the opportunity to engage one-on-one with military families through a sponsor program.

"The support has been phenomenal," said Cathy Sellers, U.S. Paralympics track and field team high-performance director. "We can't ask for anything better. Anytime we need anything, we just a say one word."

According to John Enterman, the RAF Lakenheath fitness and sports manager, the Liberty Wing was making preparations for the team before they even arrived.

"We repaired and cleaned the track for them, ensured the long jump and triple jump runways were good to go and put up netting for the discus and shot put," Enterman said.

Now that training is underway, 10 to 15 volunteers attend the morning and afternoon training sessions to set out water, sports drinks and fruit as well as prepare ice packs and anything else the team needs.

Along with the support from volunteers, each athlete is sponsored by a military family. These families have shown them around base, the local community and in general helped to make them feel at home, Enterman said.

"Anything we can do to help them achieve their personal best is what we are here for," he said.

The pre-game training is important to the U.S Paralympic track & field team. "It (the training and support here) makes the difference in a lot of medals," Sellers said.

It not only allows the athletes to make final preparations, but also helps them get over jet lag, adjust to the time difference and start training at the same time of day as the competition, which simulates competition, Sellers said.

"The nice thing about Lakenheath is it is very intimate," said Sellers. "We don't have to get on a bus to come down to the track. We don't have to get a bus to go to eat. We can just come from the TLFs (temporary living facilities) right to the dining hall and right to the track."

According to Sellers, this is going to be a good year for the U.S. Paralympic track & field team.

"This is one of the strongest teams track-wise that we have seen," she said.

The team, which has 11 world-record holders in 15 different events, has set their goals for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

"Our team goal is 30 medals and one sweep. They are going only 30?" said Sellers. "I keep telling them I like to under promise and over deliver."

"I will take the 30 first. We will get greedy later," she added.