Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ITU World Triathlon Championships - Registration

I would've preferred that the following day start a bit later than it did. 9:00 AM would've been nice, but I would've even been happy with 8:00 AM. Anything but 6:30 AM when the Juniors' Sprint Triathlon started not too far from our hotel. The race finally ended at about the same time I could no longer force the sleep so it was time to get up and face the day considering there was a lot to do. Amy, Sandy, and Tommy had gotten to the hotel awhile after I'd fallen asleep so it was another hour or so before they were ready to get up, but the day was short and we still had to register, be classified (this is where an "official" verifies that we are indeed disabled), put our bikes together, and get our bikes to the transition zone.

We started with registration. According to the hotel concierge the registration tent was no more than a mile from the hotel. We caught a cab that cost $10 then walked as far as the distance the cab had driven us and still no white tent. After following directions from a motorcart official, a poor triathlete who was running and didn't speak much English, and finally an American who didn't know the area much better than us we at long last stumbled upon it.

The disabled athletes were sent to a special section of the tent to be classified first. For other disabilties the classification process may be more worthwhile. For us amputees it really just seems a little silly. I'm missing my leg below the knee. There's really not much more to it. Sandy's missing her leg above the knee. Kind of hard to fake that. However, the fun part was the classification titles they've designated to the different degrees of disabilities. I was not in the "below knee amputee" category, but rather the "slightly disabled" category. Sandy, on the other hand, was classified as "severely disabled". I can't tell you about someone less disabled than Sandy. She lost her leg to a birth defect (like me) and has adapted very well with her prosthesis. She is an accomplished skier and athlete and can probably put most people to shame on the slopes. Uh, and she's "severely disabled". Really?

I guess the other label that is worth noting here is AWAD. What the hell does that mean? Yeah, I know, most people at the ITU Worlds Championship didn't even know. That label is to identify each of us as an Athlete With a Disability. Since I've been in disabled athletics the political correctness of the label has always been in question. Sometimes race officials use "PC (Physically Challenged) Athletes". I've heard other ones, but can't remember them off the top of my head. Sometimes though it's nice to just be called an athlete. I train like every other athlete out there. I put in the same number of hours on the road or in the gym with the same intensity and determination as any other athlete there. I just hope that sometimes that is considered too.

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