I was honored to receive an invitation from the US Association of Blind Athletes to attend their fall conference as the biathlon expert at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Over four days, attendees visited six stations to participate in adaptive sports for athletes with blindness or visual impairments. The participants were all VA staff members or from adaptive sports organizations from all over the country. The purpose of the conference was to enable and educate participants so that they would be able to introduce any of the six sports to their daily programming.
Along with biathlon, attendees were broken into teams to try out tandem cycling, judo, track and field, rowing, and goalball (a sport developed specifically for blind athletes). While each session was designed to be educational, participants also had to practice in preparation for the USABA Championship. Teams went head to head on the final day of the conference to compete in rowing, biathlon marksmanship and goalball. In the end, the competition was all for fun, but that didn’t stop the teams from getting fired up!
I have to thank the USABA for all the work they did setting up the event. The attendees of this conference serve thousands of injured and disabled veterans. I have no doubt that this conference empowered them to connect with their participants in new and exciting ways through sport. The President of USABA, Mark Lucas, opened the week by asking us what constitutes greatness. This conference was great. Well done USABA.
by Andrew Poffengerger, CXC Para Nordic Coach