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Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: 5 Team USA Athletes to Watch

Less than a month after the end of the Summer Olympics, it is almost time for the 2016 Paralympic Games [1] in Rio. Twenty-two different sports [1] will showcase around 4,350 athletes [1], hailing from more than 160 countries. Here are a few Team USA athletes to follow during this year’s Games, and be sure to tune in from Sept. 7 to 18.

Will Groulx [2] (Cycling)

Rio Paralympics: Will Groulx [2]

After participating in the past three Paralympic Games as a member of the U.S. wheelchair rugby team [3], Groulx will compete in hand cycling this month in Rio. After attending the University of Tennessee on a volleyball scholarship, Groulx served in the United States Navy [4] from 1995-2001. A motorcycle accident in 2001 left him paralyzed from the chest down. He discovered wheelchair rugby shortly after, and has won three Paralympic medals [2] from competing in the sport. Tune in this week to watch his transition to hand cycling.

April Holmes [5] (Track & Field)

Rio Paralympics: April Holmes [6]

A three-time Paralympic medalist [6], Holmes is ready to represent the USA in Rio at her fourth Paralympic Games. She ran track & field during her time at Norfolk State University, but ultimately chose to pursue a job in telecommunications after college. In 2001, a train accident resulted [6] in the loss of her left leg below the knee. Her career in Paralympic track & field began the following year, and she has broken numerous world records [5] since. Additionally, she began the April Holmes Foundation, [7] which helps those who are disabled by providing scholarships, medical assistance and more.

Tatyana McFadden [8] (Track & Field)

Rio Paralympics: Tatyana McFadden [8]

McFadden, who is headed to Rio for her fifth Paralympic Games [9], has continually worked to fight for the rights of those with disabilities. She was born with spina bifida [10], paralyzing her from the waist down. McFadden was adopted from an orphanage in Russia by Deborah McFadden [11], the Commissioner of Disabilities for the U.S. Department of Health at the time. The 10-time Paralympic medalist became the youngest member [9] of Team USA in the 2004 Games in Athens. Additionally, she competed in cross-country ski racing [11] in the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games. The recipient of the 2016 ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability [12], McFadden serves on the board of directors of Spina Bifida of Illinois, and has worked to pass legislation [9] allowing those with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in sports in school.

Rebecca Meyers [13] (Swimming)

Rio Paralympics: Rebecca Meyers [13]

A current world record holder [13] in seven events, Meyers will soon participate in her second Paralympic Games. Diagnosed with Usher syndrome [13], the swimmer has been deaf since she was born. In 2015, she was awarded the 2015 ESPY for Best Female Athlete with a Disability [14]. She also works to raise awareness [15] of Usher syndrome. Follow the swimmer as she competes to win her third Paralympic medal.

Jerome Singleton [16] (Track & Field)

Rio Paralympics: Jerome Singleton [16]

When Singleton was just 18 months old, his leg was amputated below the knee [16]. He didn’t let this hold him back — in high school he became one of South Carolina’s top football prospects [16]. He went to Morehouse College and later the University of Michigan, and even interned at NASA. [16] He competed at his first Paralympic National Athletics Championships in 2007, and has won several awards since [17], including both gold and silver medals [17] in Beijing’s 2008 Paralympic Games. Now, he’s ready to take on the competition at his third Paralympic Games.

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