The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced it will host the 2016 US Paralympic Team Trials Marathon on the streets of Chicago, USA, on 11 October. The USA’s top athletes will race in the event’s professional elite wheelchair field to secure one of four spots on the US team that will head to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The top two male and female US wheelchair finishers will be one step closer to earning a bid to Rio 2016.
“With the trials and the Chicago-New York Challenge, Chicago will be a focal point for disability sport this fall, and we are honoured to play a role in elevating attention paid to these tremendous athletes,” said Carey Pinkowski, executive race director.
Headlining the US field are 2014 Chicago Marathon champions Tatyana McFadden and Josh George. McFadden and George, both hailing from the storied University of Illinois wheelchair racing team, will return to defend their titles and work toward securing their positions in Rio 2016.
In three summer Paralympic Games appearances (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012), McFadden, 26, has captured three gold, four silver and three bronze medals. In 2014, McFadden diversified her skills when she broke into a new sport – cross-country skiing – for which she took home a silver medal at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, her first appearance at a Paralympic Winter Games.
“The competition in Chicago will be even more exciting this year with the addition of the US Paralympic Team Trials and the Chicago-New York Challenge,” said McFadden, 2014 Chicago Marathon Champion. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be in a position to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games, but to do it on what I consider my hometown course makes it all the more meaningful.”
George, 31, has taken home a total of four medals in Athens 2004 (bronze), Beijing 2008 (gold, silver), and London 2012 (bronze).
Fourteen University of Illinois teammates are challenging McFadden and George for a spot on Team USA and competing for a Chicago win, including Amanda McGrory and Adam Bleakney.
In addition to racing for a spot on Team USA, athletes will be competing against an international field vying for the championship of the first Chicago-New York Challenge, which will serve as a prelude to the inaugural Abbott World Marathon Majors Wheelchair Series.
“Team USA’s wheelchair racers have a strong tradition of excellence in the marathon, and we are excited to see our first track and field athletes punch their tickets to Rio on the streets of Chicago,” said Rick Adams, chief of Paralympic Sport and National Governing Body Organisational Development for the United States Olympic Committee. “The Chicago Marathon always puts on a world-class event for our athletes, and we know that they will serve as excellent hosts for our first Trials for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.”