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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Denied a Seat at the Table?

I've been at a conference all week in Florida. I was a keynote speaker yesterday at a procedure writer conference.

Public speaking comes really easily to me and the talk was well received. The time flew by.

I think it may be the high point for my week. I am due in Chicago at 8 am tomorrow for my para triathlon classification appointment.  That means a 4 am wake up call to get on the road early to miss rush hour traffic.

I get in later this evening and I don't think I will sleep much. I have been denied classification twice. Those of us for the most part with CMT have not been able to get in. I am told that I am clearly impaired but do not meet the standard.  I was not even given the respect of a proper assessment. The assessor went through the motions. I was treated like a scammer.  It was humiliating.

I could accept I was too strong or not impaired enough if I thought the assessment was evenly applied.
The standards let those with MS in that can run a 21 min 5K leg of the triathlon, but I am told I am too strong. I have never gotten a good answer from ITU officials on why those of us with CMT have not gotten in.

This year a new classification system is being rolled out. I don't have much hope since the ITU did not seem interested in talking with any of the experts that volunteered to help design the new system.

What happens tomorrow matters to me. When I was in Dallas at the swim start for the para race. One of the visually impaired athletes was texting on her phone. With 56 year old eyes I sometimes have trouble reading the text on a text message, yet this athlete met the minimum impairment.  Apparently she has depth perception issues. I am not disputing her challenges or her right to compete, just do not understand why the very real challenges I face as an athlete have not been accepted.

It matters to me. Unlike some with CMT I have trained extremely hard all off season to be ready to compete at an elite level. I am competitive and meet the national standards for entry into the national championship. I've won para races and not just because I was the only athlete. I have the drive, discipline and desire to be competitive.

I can be competitive at the para-triathlon and para-duathlon levels nationally. Although there is a big gap between me any athletes from other countries, I was ready to work hard to close that gap. I train 2 hours a day under the direction of a professional coach. I am race ready, but will I be allowed to compete?

After tomorrow I will know whether I will have that chance. I can compete as an age group athlete. I did make the national team as an age group duathlete. At the para level I have a chance to be among the best in the world. I am not content or happy to just be competing.

It is not enough for me. I have been a competitive runner for years. I am not just happy to be competing or to be active.  I want the chance to compete against athletes with similar challenges. That is why para-sports exist. If you are going to have a neuro-muscular category then why deny those of us with CMT that fit into this group. There as many people with CMT in the US as there are with MS.  You are denying access at this this far to those that should be let into competition.

Plus I feel as though I am standing up for every athlete with CMT. We deserve the respect to be classified into competition. We deserve that respect as athletes. We deserve to have our challenges recognized.

So I have no idea how things will go, I am not hopeful. But I will know  very soon.  My race plans for 2014 depend on the outcome.


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