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Shepherd Center athlete competes in Paralympic Games in London
by LaTria Garnigan
lgarnigan@neighbornewspapers.com
August 23, 2012 11:19 AM | 2462 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cassie Mitchell will compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London on behalf of the Shepherd Center’s sports teams. Mitchell will compete in track and field events.
Cassie Mitchell will compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London on behalf of the Shepherd Center’s sports teams. Mitchell will compete in track and field events.
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Cassie Mitchell, along with Curtis Lovejoy, Krige Schabort and Julio Diaz, will participate in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London Aug. 29 through Sept. 9.

The group, members of the Shepherd Center’s various sports teams, will compete in various competitions.

Mitchell, a DeKalb County resident, is the world-record holder in cycling, but will participate with the track-and-field team, racing in the 100 and 200-meter events, as well as discus.

Originally from Warner, Okla., she is a member of the joint biomedical engineering research faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. She studies neurological injuries and diseases, according to a news release.

This will be Mitchell’s first time at the Paralympics, though she has participated in several international competitions before.

“Nerves are inevitable, however I’m looking forward to putting on the USA uniform and racing for my country,” said Mitchell. “I did not have the honor of serving in the military, so I see this as my chance to serve the country in my own way.”

Mitchell, who is the reigning world champion and current female quadriplegic world record holder in paracycling, is the only Olympian or Paralympian doing both track events and field events.

“Other than heptathletes or decathletes, most athletes do track events or field events,” said Mitchell. “I am quadriplegic, and thus, for track I use a specialized custom racing chair to compete. I have custom splints and gloves which help my impaired hands push the hand rings to propel the chair. For discus, I throw from a chair that straps me in and has a handle for me to balance my body while I throw the 1-kilogram discus implement.”

She has competed in wheelchair track since November 2011, and as an able-bodied athlete (prior to her disability), she was a varsity high school track athlete and had a college track scholarship.

Mitchell cites her faith in God in helping her to persevere since becoming wheelchair bound.

“God has richly blessed me by turning tragedy into triumph,” she said. “I also have had support from family, friends and my church. Finally, persevering is an overt choice for each person, including me. Every day, I must choose to ‘Fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith (II Timothy 4:7).’”

As an athlete, Mitchell said the Olympics and Paralympics are the pinnacle of athletic competition, and their meaning and significance goes well beyond medals.

“It is a time when the entire world comes together to celebrate the drive of the human body and spirit,” she said. “Competing at the Paralympics is definitely a dream come true for me. It means more than I can really put into words.”

To watch the Shepherd Center’s athletes compete visit www.paralympic.org. Full event hours and 580 hours of broadcasting will stream live during the games. Also during the games, U.S. Paralympics will provide 10 daily video highlights packages via its U.S. Paralympics YouTube channel. The NBC Sports Network will air one-hour highlight shows at 7 p.m., Sept. 4 through 6 and Sept. 11. NBC will broadcast a 90-minute special from 2 to 3:30 p.m., Sept. 16. All NBC and NBC Sports Network Paralympic highlight shows and specials will re-air on Universal Sports Network, www.universalsports.com.
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