A local teenager has been named to the U.S. National Paralympic team.
Alexa Halko has overcome big challenges and may soon be on her way to the international games in Rio de Janeiro.
Halko spoke exclusively with 8News Senior Reporter Nate Eaton Tuesday night. It was a bitter cold evening but Halko was whizzing around the Sportsbackers track in her racing wheelchair.
“You have to practice a lot to get the hang of it,” said Halko. “I’ve learned many things but patience is definitely one.”
Both with cerebral palsy, Halko never imagined she’d be a track star.
She recently learned about wheelchair racing through Sportable – an organization working to transform the lives of people with disabilities through sport.
“We tried it out and she got in the chair and she’s loved it ever since,” said Elesha Halko, Alexa’s mother.
“I wasn’t good at the beginning,” said Alexa. “Now since I’m used to it and I’ve practiced so much it just comes second nature to me.”
For the first time Halko will be competing in the Monument 10k race in Richmond coming up at the end of the March. But her training doesn’t end there. She’ll start working toward her ultimate goal.
“She’s the first athlete from Sportable to be named to the Paralympic national team for track and field,” said Sportable spokesperson Kerry Gannon.
That’s right – the National Paralympic Track and Field team.
Halko competes in five events and, if she qualifies, will represent team USA in Rio de Janeriro for the 2016 International Paralympic games.
“I’m really, really excited for her,” said Elesha Halko. “She’s come so far and she’s just done so much.”
Halko says her dreams will come true and she has a word of advice for other teens with disabilities.
“I thought I couldn’t do it and I’m in my chair,” said Halko. “You just need to practice but you’ll get the hang of it. You just need to try it first.”
Alexa is ranked fourth in the world for the 100 meter and 800 meter Paralympic races. She also holds several world records.
For more information on Sportable, visit http://www.sportable.org.