With the 2012 Summer Paralympics now underway in London, five athletes with ties to Western Washington are competing for a chance to take home the gold.
Redmond native Anthony Pedeferri and Seattle resident Megan Fisher compete in cycling action. Pedeferri, a UW grad, was paralyzed from the chest down while working as a California Highway Patrol officer in 2007. He'll be the only American competing among 17 handcyclists in London, after completing his first race just over two years ago. Fisher is a current UW student, pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy. Since losing the lower part of her left leg in a 2002 car accident, Fisher has won six world championships in four separate cycling events.
Jeff Skiba, a native of Sammamish and graduate of Skyline and the University of Washington will look to defend his gold medal from Beijing in the high jump, while also competing in the javelin throw. Skiba also won gold in the pentathlon in 2008, along with a silver medal in the high jump in Athens in 2004, and is the current Paralympic world record holder in the high jump. Skiba, who was born without a fibula in his left leg due to fibular hemimelia, currently works as a police officer in San Diego.
In women's wheelchair basketball, Monroe's Desiree Miller, who was born with a rare form of spina bifada, is donning the red, white, and blue in her first Paralympic action. However, Miller is no stranger to success on the world stage, having already won gold with Team USA in the 2007 Parapan American Games, and 2010 World Championships. Miller is currently a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Finally, in sitting volleyball, Lake Stevens' Katie Holloway, born without a fibula in her right leg, hopes to avenge her and Team USA's silver medal finish in 2008. Holloway also played college basketball for four years at Cal State Northridge. Joining the sitting volleyball team in London is Shoreline Community College volleyball coach Mark West. Before leaving for England, Holloway trained with West at the SCC gym, and spoke to kids learning the game at an SCC volleyball camp.
While the games are only a few days old, these local athletes have already begun to leave their mark. Fisher has taken home the silver medal in the women's individual pursuit, and finished ninth in the 500m time trial, while Miller has put up 44 points in three games, as the U.S. wheelchair basketball team has gone 2-1 in preliminary round action to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. Holloway and the U.S. sitting volleyball team has gone 1-1 in the opening round. Pedeferri and Skiba have yet to compete.
To follow these athletes as they compete over the next two weeks, visit http://www.london2012.com/paralympics/.