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Arizona’s Chelsea Stein secures silver medal in 2023 Parapan American Games

Three+Arizona+Adaptive+Athletics+wheelchair+athletes+race+to+the+finish+line+in+the+first+race+of+the+Jim+Click+Run+%E2%80%98N%E2%80%99+Roll+race+around+the+University+of+Arizona+campus+on+Sunday%2C+Oct.+8.+This+event+is+the+biggest+fundraiser+of+the+year+for+Arizona%E2%80%99s+Adaptive+Athletics+program%2C+which+is+the+largest+and+most+successful+collegiate+adaptive+program+in+the+country.+
Nathanial Stenchever
Three Arizona Adaptive Athletics wheelchair athletes race to the finish line in the first race of the Jim Click Run ‘N’ Roll race around the University of Arizona campus on Sunday, Oct. 8. This event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Arizona’s Adaptive Athletics program, which is the largest and most successful collegiate adaptive program in the country.

The United States sent some of its top paralympic athletes to Santiago, Chile, where the 2023 Parapan American Games were held Nov. 17-26. The games featured over 2,000 participants from 31 nations competing in 18 sports. On the final day of the track and field events, the University of Arizona’s own Chelsea Stein powered her way to second place in the women’s 100-meter T53 category

“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Stein said. With only four years of experience in the sport, this marked her second international competition. 

“It was such an amazing experience,” Stein said. “I learned so much just being there for two weeks.”

In addition to her outstanding performance in the 100-meter race, Stein clocked new personal bests in the three other events she competed in: 1:03.77 in the 400-meter, 2:08.33 in the 800-meter and 4:10.86 in the 1500-meter.

“The [personal bests] are really what we’re looking for,” said Pete Hughes, the director of adaptive athletics for the UA. “Of course, collecting [medals] is a part of the training process. We expect those to start popping up if she stays on task and she definitely has been.”

Stein attributed her success to the coaches that have been guiding her along her journey. Texas Regional Para-sport Coach Wendy Gumbert introduced Stein to racing in 2020 by loaning her a chair and showing her the ropes. 

“She’s very dedicated. She’s always looking and searching for ways she can improve and do better in her training,” Gumbert said.

Looking ahead, Stein is training to represent her country at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. Team USA’s time trials are scheduled for July 18-21, 2024, in Chula Vista, California

“I think some people overlook [Paralympians] in a way,” Stein said. “We train just as hard and it’s good to see our sport finally getting more exposure.”

Now encompassing 22 sports, the Paralympics rank among the largest sporting events globally.

“I’ve coached over 25 Paralympians and you can kind of tell which ones have the work ethic and she’s definitely got it,” Hughes said.

With a current 100-meter PR of 18.44, Stein aspires to break the 18-second barrier prior to the time trials this upcoming summer. Before heading to California, Stein is gearing up to compete in the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday, Dec. 10

“I’m not super great at marathons, but I do like challenges,” Stein said. “I’m reminding myself that this race is just for fun.”


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