Wheelchair athlete ready for Atholton tri-meet today

After court ruling, McFadden in 4 events

April 19, 2006|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

Wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden will compete in the 200 meters, 400, 800 and 1,600 at a tri-meet with Hammond and host Long Reach today, Atholton girls track and field coach Dwight Bowler said yesterday.

McFadden, a sophomore at Atholton who took home two medals from the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, Greece, won the right to compete alongside nondisabled athletes through a preliminary injunction granted Monday by a federal judge in Baltimore.

Mike Williams, the coordinator of athletics for Howard County, said McFadden would be seeded in a lane assignment like every other athlete and would not necessarily be forced to participate in an outside lane.

For the 800 and 1,600, McFadden would be positioned at the starting line like the other athletes. And should she finish in the top six in any event, the Raiders would earn the corresponding points toward their team score.

Williams said there is little concern about the width of McFadden's wheelchair, which he said is narrower than the 42-inch length of the lanes, which is standard among tracks in the state.

For now, McFadden's eligibility is limited to meets in the county and sponsored by the county. For example, she may compete at the county championships on May 10, but not the Class 2A South regional meet at Long Reach on May 18 and 20 because that competition is sponsored by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

At last year's Loucks Memorial Track and Field Games in White Plains, N.Y., McFadden posted meet records with times of 2 minutes, 5.71 seconds in the wheelchair 800 and 4:18.66 in the wheelchair 1,600. Those times are considerably faster than the state record times of 2:11.0 in the 800 set by Oakland Mills' Donna Neale in 1985 and 4:46.2 in the 1,600 established by Annapolis' Kristen Nicolini in 1995.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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