Cassie S. Mitchell, assistant research professor and principal investigator of the Laboratory for Pathology Dynamics in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, has been named to the 2016 USA paralympic track and field team that will compete in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) this September. Mitchell competed June 30-July 2 at the 2016 Paralympic Trials in Charlotte, NC, to earn her spot on the team, which was announced in Charlotte on July 3.
While at the Trials, Mitchell set two new world records in the T51 women’s 100m and 400m track events while winning gold and silver in the club throw and discus throw, respectively. Given the limited Rio 2016 Paralympic track event offerings for her disability classification as a C5-6 quadriplegic in the T/F51 class, Mitchell’s Rio 2016 Paralympic medal intentions will actually focus in the field events, the F51 club throw and the discus throw, for which she currently ranks second and third in the world, respectively, on the International Paralympic Committee World rankings list.
Paralympic athletes are classed according to the severity of their disability so that athletes with similar functional abilities compete together. The 51 class or T/F51 (T is track and F is for field) is the class for the athletes with the most severe deficits affecting all 4 limbs, which by the rules, equates to a spinal paralysis level equivalent to a C5-6 lesion/injury.
Mitchell was also a paralympian in the London 2012 Games, where she placed 4th. However, Cassie says that her intent at Rio 2016 is more than just making the medal stand. Mitchell said, "With the help of God and amazing family, friends, and supporters, I have overcome a lot this year, seemingly impossible odds, and that makes it special. I was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2016 so to even be at the US Trials competing with chemotherapy and everything else that is going on makes it really meaningful. I’m just honored to have a chance to make the USA Paralympic Team, go to Rio and represent the amazing USA and everyone fighting with any kind of disability, cancer or whatever the obstacles may be. I want to be able to show that if you keep working hard and have faith you can and will overcome. I think it’s an important message regardless of medal or my actual athletic result. But, that is not to say I won’t be going for GOLD!”
A total of 66 athletes will represent Team USA in track and field at the 2016 Paralympic Games. The 40 men and 26 women on the roster, in addition to three guides for visually impaired athletes, will compete in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from September 7-18. The U.S. Paralympics is a division of the United States Olympic Committee.
For the full team announcement, see http://www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Features/2016/July/03/2016-US-Paralympic-Track-Field-Team-nominated-for-Rio
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology