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Parlympian Alyssa Seely crossing the finish line
Parlympian Alyssa Seely. Photo courtesy of Delly Carr/World Triathlon Media
Sports

Meet the Coloradans Competing in the 2020 Paralympic Games

The 12 athletes will go for the gold in Tokyo beginning Tuesday, August 24.

If you’ve found yourself missing the nonstop athletic action of the Summer Olympics, you’re in luck: A whole new group of world-class athletes are set to compete in Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympic Games starting this week.

A number of athletes with Colorado ties will also represent Team USA during the competition. Here’s who they are, what sports they compete in, and where to watch all of their athletic brilliance.

Adam Scaturro
Sport: Wheelchair Rugby
As a former high school quarterback, Scaturro was drawn to the physical contact in wheelchair rugby. The Lakewood resident, 42, has since claimed bronze and silver medals at previous Paralympic Games. But one of his most impressive accomplishments remains making it to Mount Everest Base Camp in a wheelchair, with the help of some strong sherpas who carried him through difficult stretches.

Eric Newby
Sport: Wheelchair Rugby
Newby, who is originally from Bailey, discovered wheelchair rugby in 2006 and tried out for the national team for the first time in 2009. He didn’t make the team then, but dedicated himself to getting better. By 2013, not only had he made the team, but he was named the U.S. Quad Rugby Association Player of the Year. The 33-year-old ultimately made his Paralympic debut in 2016 and helped Team USA take home a silver medal.

Beatriz Hatz
Sport: Track and Field
Hatz was born without a fibula in her right leg, requiring doctors to amputate the limb below the knee when she was 10 months old. But that didn’t keep her from joining the track team at D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School and becoming one of the best young para-athletes in the world. The Lakewood resident competes in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and long jump events and was named the 2018 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field High School Female Athlete of the Year.

Hailey Danz
Sport: Paratriathlon
Danz is a cancer survivor who had her leg amputated due to osteosarcoma at the age 14. Since then, she has gone on to become a decorated para-triathlete, taking home a whopping six World Championship medals, as well as a silver medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Paralympian Kyle Coon running with his guide, Andy Potts.
Paralympian Kyle Coon and his guide, Andy Potts. Photo courtesy of Focal Flame Photography

Kyle Coon
Sport: Paratriathlon
Coon, who lost his vision at age seven due to a rare form of eye cancer, is an avid rock climber and downhill skier. But paratriathlon is the sport the Colorado Springs resident truly excels in: He is a two-time World Triathlon Para Series medalist who earned his first international victory on May 15 in Yokohama, Japan. He was also the 2019 Paratriathlon Nationals runner-up.

Robert Tanaka
Sport: Judo
The Denver resident decided he wanted to compete in judo in kindergarten after paralympian Scott Moore visited his school, Anchor Center for Blind Children. Tanaka eventually started training with Moore (both of them have a genetic condition that causes visual impairment) and the pair are now headed to Tokyo together, where Moore will serve as the U.S. Paralympic judo team coach during the event.

Allysa Seely
Sport: Paratriathlon
Seely, who had her left leg amputated below the knee after complications with Chiari II malformation, basilar invagination, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, might be the most dominant member of Team USA’s star-studded paratriathlon team. She won a gold medal in the event at the 2016 Paralympic Games, and was the 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Paratriathlon Champion. Following an undefeated 2018 season, the Colorado Springs resident also won the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete. Oh, and she placed sixth in the 200-meter track and field event at the 2016 Games.

Melissa Stockwell
Sport: Paratriathlon
Stockwell won a bronze medal during paratriathlon’s debut at the 2016 Paralympic Games, completing Team USA’s sweep that year. She is the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Paratriathlon World Champion and a five-time World Championship medalist. All of that is made even more impressive when you consider Stockwell, an Army veteran who became the first female American soldier to lose a limb in active duty while serving in Iraq in 2004, also represented Team USA at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing in swimming. The University of Colorado Boulder graduate’s impressive list of accomplishments helped secure her spot as a flag bearer for Team USA at the opening ceremonies in Tokyo.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson of the United States emerges from the water in the Men's 100m Breaststroke finals at the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials
Rudy Garcia-Tolson of the United States competes in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke finals during day 1 of the 2021 U.S. Paralympic Swimming Trials. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Rudy Garcia-Tolson
Sport: Swimming
This Colorado Springs resident was born with pterygium syndrome, a club foot, webbed fingers, and a cleft lip and palate. Following 15 surgeries before the age of five, he was ultimately forced to have a double leg amputation. By the time he was eight, however, he had become active in swimming, and by the age of 16 he had earned a gold medal at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. Now, he’s one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the sport.

Elizabeth Marks
Sport: Swimming
Marks was serving as a combat medic in Iraq in 2010 when both of her hips were injured. It took three surgeries to reconstruct them. She took up swimming while she was recovering at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and went on to win a gold and bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games. In recent years, though, the Colorado Springs resident suffered another setback: She had to have her left leg amputated below the knee in 2017 after suffering respiratory failure and spending time on ECMO. But she still managed to make it back to her sport’s biggest stage.

Sophia Herzog
Sport: Swimming
Herzog, 24, took home a silver medal in her Paralympic debut in 2016. In her spare time, the Denver native, who was born with a form of dwarfism, is also a tour guide at the new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs.

Stetson Bardfield
Sport: Shooting
Born with arthrogryposis, which affects limb control, Bardfield underwent bilateral knee disarticulation at age four to help him walk. Later in life, the current Colorado Springs resident was introduced to rifle shooting by a former marine and shot a perfect score on his first day practicing the sport. He’ll make his Paralympic debut this month in Tokyo.

Where to watch: Check the full NBC Networks TV schedule, so you can catch all the action.

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