Mary Hodge, high performance manager for USA Para Powerlifting, recently participated in one of four national Gateway to Gold events. The free events are designed for youth with physical and visual impairments to test their athletic skills in a Paralympic sport.
Earlier this month in Texas, the Houston Sports Authority & TIRR Memorial Herman, a rehabilitation hospital, hosted four sports: powerlifting, table tennis, fencing and archery.
Hodge said the event was a great opportunity to expose youth to various sports. “The kids were excited, and very supportive of each other – it was just a lot of fun,” she said. “There were only a handful that had ever tried Powerlifting before and they were at amazed what they could do.”
Hodge said she was surprised by the strength of one young girl who began benching a broomstick and ended with a 45-pound bar. Gateway to Gold, she said, truly gives interested youth a chance to discover Paralympic sports and learn more about ways to further develop their skills and consider a future career in Paralympic sport.
Organizers said the Houston event was the best one as far as attendance numbers, content, experience and relationships that were built.