Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
NYC Wheelchair Tennis Teaching Professional - Honored Print E-mail
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September 29, 2016


The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) honored those members who stand out and go above and beyond in all aspects of the tennis industry at the 2016 USPTA World Conference this week. USPTA, the world’s oldest and largest association of tennis-teaching professionals, recognized tennis coaches, industry leaders and volunteers during its annual national awards presentation at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, California.


Aki Wolfson, recipient of the USTA/USPTA Community Service Award, with Chuck Gill (left) and Mike McNulty
Aki Wolfson, recipient of the USTA/USPTA Community Service Award, with Chuck Gill (left) and Mike McNulty


Aki Takayama-Wolfson (Flushing, N.Y.) received the USTA/USPTA Community Service Award for her contributions to her community through tennis, presented annually by the United States Tennis Association as part of the USPTA’s awards program.  Mrs. Takayama-Wolfson has been dedicated to the teaching and promotion of Wheelchair Tennis for over 20 years at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, New York.  She is also the first and continuing Tennis Director for the annual Jana Hunsaker Memorial Wheelchair Tennis Tournament since it's inception in 2001 and will be going into it's 17th year.


Congratualations Aki!  Well deserved.  


For more information on 2016 USTA/USPTA Awards, go to -  http://uspta.com/default.aspx/act/newsletter.aspx/category/USPTA+Latest+News/MenuGroup/HOME/NewsLetterID/1169/startrow/2.htm?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1


Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 19:26
Closing Ceremony - 2016 Rio Paralympics Print E-mail
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Fireworks over the roof during the Closing Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Maracanã Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil , Sunday 18th September 2016. Photo: Simon Bruty for OIS/IOC.  Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

By Orge Castellano   September 19, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO – The first Paralympic Games ever celebrated in South America finished with an impressive closing ceremony at Maracanã Stadium, infused with a burst of colors and spectacular music performances that set the carnivalesque and farewell atmosphere only Brazilians could bring.

It was invitation to taste and feel all the sounds, all the colors and tones from different parts of the country. On Sunday, the 11-day spectacle came to an end with athletes and fans gathering at the stadium. As the rain poured down, it seemed as if Rio’s sky was crying over the games being passed onto to Tokyo.

The 2016 Rio games left us with many memorable moments and overall, it was an impressive event despite previous concerns about its quality or feat due to budget cuts, Zika virus and security. The games have been a successful event surrounded by astonishing feats of athleticism and in general, extraordinary talented athletes.

Spectators enjoyed a quite peaceful atmosphere; something many were concerned about. Just a month ago, the organizing committee was in a dark cloud over the lack of funding and delays in some of their duties.

One thing is for sure though, this year´s edition of the Paralympics, which marked its 15th year, was clouded with major controversies and with full of criticism beginning with the ban of the Russian delegation and some other athletes being harshly suspended for anti-doping violations. A drop in ticket sales threatened the success of the game, but later, officials announced that tickets were in fact sold out for many of the games. Both the organizing committee and the Brazilian people proved that there weren’t challenges difficult enough that would interfere with the success of the games, and they decided that nothing was going to bring their spirit down.

“The Brazil we love so much has shown the world what it can do. The impossible happened. And today here we are, at this historical moment, ending a magical era. Brazilian people displayed reliability, courage, verve and much resolve. Brazilians never give up,” said Carlos Nuzman, the president of the Organizing Committee, at closing ceremony.

After 11 days of incredible competitions there’s one thing that became an important element of the games: the crowds. They were energetic, ecstatic and cheered for everyone with emotion and passion, not just Brazil. They brought the dance moves with them to every venue. They celebrated the Paralympic movement, its social inclusion and embraced with open arms, the extraordinary prowess of the athletes.

“Marvelous Cariocas, you warmly embraced these Games and took the athletes to your hearts; the noise you created, the passion you shared, the warmth you provided inspired Paralympians to achieve what some thought impossible. You made the Paralympics your Games, the People’s Games, and we will forever cherish our time spent with you,” said Sir Phillip Craven on his closing ceremony speech.

As Rio officially became a Paralympian city, the IPC awarded the Cariocas and the Brazilian people the honor of being members of the Paralympian Movement. It’s the highest award a group of people can receive from the Paralympic movement. The athletes were also praised and honored in the ceremony with the IPC president adding:

“Paralympians, you are role models for what the world wants to see in today’s sporting heroes. You see obstacles as opportunities, you fight for your rights and here in Rio, you have a unique opportunity to make for a more equitable world. Your values tell people what you stand for and most importantly who you are.”

The Paralympic movement is defined by its legacy: the one that its left to every host country. Brazil won’t be an exemption. Even though as a developing country, it still faces major challenges in offering more inclusion for disabled people, Brazilians across the country will see an increase in their quality of life thanks to the pilot infrastructure built for the games that would ultimately impact and improve their lives and daily situations. Hopes are that it is going to be carried and executed across the whole nation.

As the ceremony came to a close, the Sir Phillip Craven’s message was loud and clear: “An invitation for us to never forget to broaden our senses, to look at differences as sheer power, to build a world designed for all. A party to celebrate universal love.”

The Epitome Of Determination Print E-mail
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By Orge Castellano  October 8, 2016

The road was slightly wet when the crowd arrived at Pontal, an early cloudy grey sky above was silently threatening to ruin the day – but in Brazil the sunshine comes out no matter what-. The crowds surrounded the cycling path patiently waiting for the riders to pass, most of them only will see a rapid flash swapping in from of their eyes, barely would they see the competitor’s face, but that’s enough, people of Brazil never get to see action like this so close and many have never seen Paralympians compete at all. For many, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. The racers are easily distinguished by their patriotic colors: red and yellow for China, green and red for the Italians, the Team USA racers clad in a proud red, white, and blue. Two Americans were scheduled to compete at the men’s road race C1-2-3. Cyclist superstar and previous Paralympic champion Joe Berenyi was ready, but newcomer Billy Lister, making his Paralympic debut in Rio, was nowhere to be seen. The buzzer sounded and the cyclists aggressively pedaled away from the board showing DNS [Did Not Start] next to Billy’s name. Some USA fans clung to the fences not far from stunned and confused members of the press. Where’s this racer? Why did he not start?

Billy, as everybody calls him, has always been a fighter, multifaceted athlete, and constantly opened to new challenges, willing to start from scratch again and again. In addition to athletic ability, he has a major gift of being able to reinvent himself; but reinvention itself usually comes at a high price. At 15, Billy wasn’t expecting his life to be dramatically changed overnight in a 180 degree spin that left him a different person. He spent weeks receiving treatment in a hospital bed for something the teenager had never heard of, but quickly became an intrinsic part of him. He was diagnosed with a rare and incisive brain abnormality known as an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) that in most cases needs to be corrected through extensive and acute Stereotactic Radiosurgery. The procedure was a success, but roughly three months later Billy experienced severe swelling in his brain, and he suffered what his doctors and parents had been fearing the most, a stroke. He could hardly walk nor move with ease due to a full left side hemiparesis.  Frustration grew as simple tasks, like holding a cup or getting dressed, became increasingly burdensome. He noticed his life moving dramatically backwards. “Whereas most strokes are sudden bursts of light, mine was a slow and regressive process” he says.

Billy refused to be stopped and continued attending sport practices and playing with his team. He was not defeated; stubborn, refused to be held back, and eventually received the scholastic award from his classmates due to his sportsmanship and friendliness. His physical conditions, though, were slowly reaching a more severe state. Unable to practice able-bodied sports anymore, he worked to accept his new condition, it was time for a ‘rebirth’ as he calls it. Young dreams were fatally crashed in a matter of weeks, but the human spirit is an abstract thing with a mind that revolves conscious and unconscious spectrums.

Billy was coping with his disability, surviving everyday, but he wasn’t living his life to its fullest. The only way he could grapple with his new condition was through something he was very accustomed to – sports-. No abnormality was going to thwart Billy’s aspirations. Yet, the unforgivable factor of time took an almost 12 year pause after the stroke as Billy worked to re-discover himself. Nothing happens in life by mistake, and when those supposed mistakes turn out to be strengths one’s inner strength can be peacefully realized. These hurdles make a person who they shaping their live. Billy said to life and to himself  “bring on the mistakes, because I’m more than ready.”

Billy has always been the athletic type, playing soccer in high school and experimenting with different recreational ones, whether the basketball team, baseball or track and field. Growing up, he knew sports were ingrained deeply inside him.

“Sports is what I love to do, it’s what I enjoy the most, and being active and athletic. It’s part of my personality, of my physical nature.”

Sometimes what is needed to prepare oneself for life’s next life stages is time, and in 2009 Billy audaciously re-ignited his true-self and found adapted sports. Through acquaintances and the Wheelchair Sports Federation, he did not hesitate to begin practicing sled hockey. Then in 2011 he attended a Paratriathlon camp through the Challenged Athletes Foundation. He continued with triathlon for almost two years until he couldn’t run anymore and needed to switch to a new sport.

“I realized that it was challenging for me, and of course in Triathlon running is an important aspect.”

In 2013 Billy rediscovered cycling after friends introduced him to a high performance cyclist coach working with the US Paralympics. Billy went to San Diego in March 2013 for a selection process, where he excelled more than had been anticipated.

“I had a disposition and a proclivity to it. I realized that I was pretty good at it, and then it hit me I could become a professional athlete.”

Billy takes on the track on his 3000M Individual Pursuit time trial C1 SEPT, 9, 2016. Photo by Michael A. Clubine

Something in him clicked. He inherently knew that no matter the strenuous up-and-downs he would become a pro athlete and decided to give it his all, to strengthen this talent coming organically out of him. The national championships came, then the world cups, and he was getting ahead, so he gave his dedication to the Paralympic trials. In November 2013 he competed at the US Indoor Track Para Cycling National Championships and, having only ridden a track bike twice in his life, became a National Champion in the Men’s C2 Division, the three kilometer Individual Pursuit and the one kilometer Time Trial. He was leaving other incredulous athletes and the public – most of them unaware of his existence -aghast with surprise and filled with amazement. In January 2015 he started exclusively training in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. He was ready for the Paralympics.

Billy was scheduled to compete in four events in Rio de Janeiro: the Men’s C1 3000m Individual Pursuit Qual on Sept 9th, the men’s C1-2-3 1000m Time Trial on Sept. 10th, the men’s Time Trial C1 on Sept. 14th all of them in the Rio Olympic Velodrome and the men´s road race on Sept. 16th  outside the Olympic park in the Cycling road in Pontal. He trained hard for this moment and attended with discipline every training session at the Velodrome, in the heart of the Olympic Park located in Barra de Tijuca at the shores of Rio de Janeiro. He was set to face difficult competitors from around the world, all of them after that desired prize, a Paralympic medal and recognition for their efforts determination. Billy came with a goal in mind, to taste the playfield and experience the Paralympics. But competition was fierce and Billy was unable to claim a medal. At his last race Billy had to be pulled out due to an injury on his left elbow sustained by a crash he suffered the previous day, right before his time trial where he came in 5th.

Billy Lister testing the Omega timing system at training SEPT 6, 2016. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

“I had a bike crash on my way to the start line on Wednesday morning and fractured my left elbow, fully displaced at the radial head with a splinter through the joint. I still went and raced, and finished 5th overall which is a reasonable result given I was riding on a broken arm”  

Unconcerned, he knows Rio wasn’t his only opportunity at the Paralympics, and that his driving force and undeniable dogged determination will continue to rise in future competitions.

“I have high aspirations for Tokyo in 2020—Rio 2016 is not my only shot. I’ve got a long future in Paralympic cycling.”

Whether it’s in Rio de Janeiro, at high-top championships, or the Olympic Training Center in the Colorado Springs, Billy is determined to go where triumph is guaranteed and undaunted from the intense-hardcore training sessions. He’s not afraid of defeat and will outwit his own body to the last drop.

Billy competes on the 3000M Individual Pursuit final C1 SEPT, 9, 2016. Photo by Michael A. Clubine

Billy is spurred on to greater efforts; it’s a quintessential element of sports and a growth feature not to be ignored or underestimated. He knows everything comes with a high level of discipline and hard work. Sports are an ingrained part of his life and this Paralympian will continue to best athletes in future international competition.

Recap Day 11: Team USA Ranks Fourth as Paralympics Come to Close Print E-mail
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The start of the Men's Marathon - T12. Athletics at Fort Copacabana. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil , Sunday 18thSeptember 2016. Photo: Thomas Lovelock for IOS/IOC.  Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

By Mariya Abedi 

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After 10 days full of competition and more than 112 medals, Team USA looked to close out this year’s Paralympic Games with wins in two remaining sports: wheelchair rugby and the marathon. And the U.S. athletes sure did not disappoint.

It was a close game in the wheelchair rugby finals, which was one of two sports televised on NBC. With all eyes on them, the U.S. team fought till the final second in the gold medal against Australia. The two teams stayed neck in neck throughout the four quarters, but in the end, Team USA was edged out by the Aussies by 59-58 in double overtime.  

bb3_7260Joshua Brewer moves towards the scoring zone during the gold-medal match against Australia. Photo by Bob Martin for OIS/IOC.

At half, the U.S. trailed only by one point, with starter Chuck Aoki scoring 9 of the 25 points.  The team continued its aggressive play on the court, matching each of their opponent’s goal. But Australia’s defense kept the U.S. from taking the lead.

With just two seconds left in the last quarter, the U.S. tied up the game after Aoki passed the ball to Josh Brewer, leading the game into its first overtime at 49 points.

The two teams continued scoring back and forth, ending the first overtime with 54 points each. At the end of the second overtime, Australia clinched gold with the U.S. unable to score a goal in the last 15 seconds.

“It was such a great game, both sides. We fought extremely well,” said Team USA’s Jason Regier. “I’m surprised we didn’t go a couple more overtimes.”

BB3_7155.JPGChuck Aoki on the court in Rio de Janiero during the final match against Australia. Photo by Bob Martin for OIS/IOC. 

The U.S. team has made the podium in wheelchair rugby ever since the sport was introduced in 2000 at the Paralympic Games. They had won bronze at the 2012 London Games, pushing the team harder to work towards gold.

“You sacrifice four years to represent your country and get here, and we did everything we could out there. Hats off to Australia,” Reigier said.

tl2_0263Australia takes the lead at the start line in the men’s marathon T54 at Fort Copacabana. Photo by Thomas Lovelock for IOS/IOC.

Meanwhile, at a picturesque Fort Copacabana, the mercury continued to rise.

Powerhouse Tatyana McFadden competed in her final event, aiming to add another gold to her collection. The women’s wheelchair marathon T54 took off with 14 athletes, including five Americans.

It was a fight till the very end for McFadden, as she finished at the same exact time as China’s Jing Ma. Both crossed the finish line at 1:38:44, but a photo finish showed Ma’s wheel come in first, winning by hair. McFadden took home the silver, the three-time Paralympian’s sixth medal in Rio.

“I knew the races were going to be tough.” McFadden said. “It’s amazing to be on the podium six times. Some people weren’t on the podium at all.”

at4_4265Amanda McGrory competes in the women’s T54 marathon at Fort Copacabana. Photo by Al Tielemans for OIS/IOC. 

And teammate Amanda McGrory came in third, winning the bronze with a time of 1:38:45.

“It was definitely a technical course. The flatness of it made it very fast but it also made it very difficult to break away,” McGrory explained. “The laps are kind of cool as well because you know what’s coming up.”

In the men’s marathon T54, Aaron Pike placed 10th with a time of 1:30.13, but Joshua George and James Senbeta were unable to finish.

But all the athletes will get their chance to prove themselves again when the Paralympics head to Tokyo in 2020. 

“I have lots of homework. I know what I need to do next time. Hopefully a little stronger and smarter. I’m ready for Tokyo,” McFadden said.

Feature picture by Thomas Lovelock for IOS/IOC.

Recap Day Ten: Men’s Wheelchair Basketball, Sitting Volleyball, Athletics Claim Gold Print E-mail
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By Orge Castellano and Matthew Gephart   September 18, 2016

On the second to last day of competition marking the 10th day in Rio, Team USA has added a few more gold medals to its collective count, bringing the total to 40.

With the biggest highlights from the games today, the Women’s Sitting Volleyball team and the Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team placed first in competition, taking home Gold medals.

The Women’s Sitting Volleyball team faced a tough match China, just as it was in London for the 2012 Paralympic games. The US women took the first set 25-12, and ended second set with the same results, taking the first two in the start of the match. After only being behind for a few serves at the beginning of the third set, the US women’s team took charge and finished off the set 25-18, taking the gold from the reigning champion Chinese team.

Monique Burkland and Laura Webster (Left to Right) play against great contender China for the gold medal. SEPT. 18, 2016. Photo By Ken King

“In the third set at point 22 or 23, I started to feel nauseous because I was having this feeling of ‘OK, you are not there yet… but you are there. So don’t lose’ said Katie Holloway.

“It was absolutely my best moment in sport. I have played for a long time and to have this moment after almost 14 years it’s amazing; everything has paid off and the team I just walked off court with are the best. We are all together and we worked so hard to get this medal. It has been our focus for years.” said Lora Webster after their win.

The women from the Sitting Volleyball team celebrate their victory. Photo By Ken King

The Men’s Basketball team was able to defeat Spain in a 68-52 victory taking the number one position on the podium. By checking the final score you would not be able to tell how close of a game this really was. After the US Team lead the entire first half of the game, Spain cut down their lead and took the momentum into the second half, coming with in two points of tying the game with just under a minute in in the 3rd quarter. The United States was able to hold off the Spaniards and take Gold, only having praise to speak of the opposition.

Steve Serio plays at the gold medal match against Spain. on SEPT. 18, 2016. Photo By Michael Clubine

“Spain is a terrific team. We knew they would play us aggressively and they beat a bunch of great teams to get here. So we weren’t underestimating them. In the fourth quarter we found our rhythm offensively and that carried us to the victory.” said Steve Serio.

It’s the first time since 1988 that the men’s has been able to won gold.

“It is a huge deal. We have been in a drought for many years. I wouldn’t want to to do it with another group of guys. We played awesome and it feels great to bring it back to the US.” Said Aaron Gouge.

The United States mixed team of Lia Coryell and Jeff Fabry were just edged out of a medal in Archery, placing fourth being defeated by the Czech Republic team. Coryell was also defeated during Individuals in the quarterfinal earlier in the morning, losing to Great Britain’s, Jo Frith.

Athletics kept Team USA busy on the day, competing in Men’s Long Jump was Trenton Merrill and Jerome Singleton who finished in 9th and 11th respectively. Shirley Reilly was able to take bronze in the Women’s 800m T53 final after finishing just three tenths of a second behind first place, while in the T54 classification Tatyana Mcfadden was able to take home the gold by the same margin, gathering her fourth gold in Rio 2016.

“This is my fourth gold medal. In London, I got three. It’s just been an amazing Games. I came home with silver in the 100m then gold from there on out. It’s been quite an amazing journey” said Tatyana.

Tatyana McFadden USA finishes first in the Women’s 800m – T54 Athletics Final ahead of Wenjun Liu CHN (centre) and Yingjie Li CHN at the Olympic Stadium. Photo: Al Tielemans for OIS/IOC. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC

Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt was able to qualify for the 1500m T11 race, but finished in the final position in that event. In the Women’s 100m T51/52 final, Kerry Morgan took second place over fellow teammate Cassie Mitchell who did not start. Just missing out on a bronze medal also was Men’s Shot Put thrower Michael Wishnia.

Road Cycling finals in the C4-5 and the B races left our Team USA members without Medals on the day. Samantha Bosco came in 6th place in the Women’s Road Race C4-5, which was the highest placing athlete for the day in Cycling. In a more somber note, the passing of Iranian Cyclist, Bahman Golbarnezhad, has struck the Paralympic world as thoughts and prayers go to his country and family.

Brad Kendell, Rick Doerr and Hugh Freund competed in the final race of the three-person keelboat (Sonar) class at the Marina da Gloria on Saturday taking home a silver medal. When asked about how he was feeling after the race Brad said: “Not much sleep. Woke up in the middle of the night and certainly started thinking about the race, how we were going to get out there and manage it and what we had to do to win it. We wanted to win that race to go out in style.”

Brad Kendell, Rick Doerr and Hugh Freund compete in the final race of the three-person keelboat (Sonar) class at the Marina da Gloria in Rio. Photo By Ken King

The chosen venue for the event wasn’t the easiest having to do extreme turns.

“It’s an incredibly tough venue. There’s every kind of condition you can see. We’ve been practicing that for a long time so we knew we could be down on one lap and come from the back. We tried to keep our cool in every race, we knew we had another lap to get back.” said Hugh.

Rick Doerr USA, Hugh Freund USA and Brad Kendell USA (left to right) celebrate winning the Silver in the 3-Person Keelboat (Sonar) Sailing race at Marina da Glória. Photo: Thomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC


The 2-person Keelboat race didn’t go as smoothly for Ryan Porteous and Maureen Mckinnon, who finished 7th overall, while Dee Smith competed in the 1-person Keelboat race and just missed the podium by another three tenths of a second loss.

In Swimming Roy Perkins from Washington, DC, clinched a silver medal at the Men’s 100 meter Freestyle S6 with a time of 1:14.55 not being able to overtake Brazilian Para-elite swimmer Daniel Dias who took gold.

“It’s been loud every time Daniel (DIAS) swims. It definitely makes it more fun but I didn’t think too much about it, it’s my fourth race with him” said Perkins.

It’s the 8th and last medal for the 26 year-old who had a very successful journey in Rio.

Wheelchair Rugby will be set to finish in the final day of the Paralympic Games in Rio with the United States qualifying for the final round over Canada today, winning 60-55. Taking advantage of a deadly combination of 6 takeaways for the US team and 10 turnovers by the Canadians, the United States team was just able to squeeze into the next round after an evenly matched bout with the team that edged them in London 2012. The United States team will take on London’s Gold Medalists, Australia, tomorrow at 15:00 BRT, 3:00pm EST.

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