UCO Endeavor Games: Celebrating 15 Years of Sport
Photographs by Mike Wallo, courtesy of UCO Endeavor Games.
Now in its 15th year, the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), Edmond, Endeavor Games drew 340 athletes to compete in 11 sports from June 5-8. The games are a nationally recognized multi-sport competition that allows all athletes with physical disabilities to participate.
Paracanoe racing, which last year had been presented as an exhibition race, made its debut. Athletes are classified as either LTA, meaning the paddler has functional use of his or her legs, trunk, and arms for paddling; TA, meaning the paddler has functional use of his or her arms; or A, meaning the paddler has no trunk function and thus applies force predominantly using the arms and/or shoulders. Two types of boats are used, kayaks (K) and va'a, or outrigger canoes (V), and paddlers can compete as singles or in pairs. The event drew ten participants for the three-race format. Kelly Allen, who has a left transfemoral amputation, had a particularly strong showing in the women's division (K-1 W LTA), scoring first in all three races. She also scored in the top three overall (men's and women's combined) of each race. David Etier was a standout in the men's division (K-1 M TA), scoring second in the first race and first in race two and three; he also logged the fastest time of the day at 55.8 seconds. Etier has a left transhumeral amputation, the result of a work-related accident. On July 6, he was selected to represent the United States at the International Canoe Federal (ICF) World Finals in Germany in August.
Paracanoe will also be making its Paralympic debut at the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as will paratriathlon. This was the second year paratriathlon was offered at the UCO Endeavor Games. Twelve men and three women participated, two of whom were returning competitors. Participants had to be age 16 years or older and had to have participated in a previous triathlon to compete. Despite heavy rains the morning of the event, June 8, "we were able to still continue with the event," said Whitt Carter, UCO's Communications Specialist - Wellness Center. "We had about 15 athletes compete, and we are looking forward to it continuing to grow in years to come, hopefully with better weather. We recognize the importance being placed on this event at the Paralympic level, so it's something we expect to improve each year."
After a one-year hiatus, swimming was returned to the schedule, and was "bigger and better than ever," Carter said, calling it a highlight of this year's games. Swimming was hosted at the new Edmond Mitch Park YMCA, which has a state-of-the-art Olympic size pool, and was also the venue for the weekend's kick-off celebration on Friday night.
Other sports on the schedule were indoor/outdoor archery, cycling (20 kilometer and 5 kilometer courses), powerlifting (ages 16 and up), sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, table tennis, track and field, and wheelchair basketball three-on-three (adult and junior).