ABILENE, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) — As a junior transfer student from McMurry University, Tanner Wright has represented Hardin-Simmons as an outstanding track athlete. On August 24, Wright will not only represent HSU, but also America after joining team USA for the Parapan American Games.
The Parapan American Games is an international sporting event for athletes with physical disabilities. It takes place every four years immediately following the Pan American Games. The very first Paralympic Games were held in November 1999 in Mexico City with only 1,000 athletes competing between four sports. The 2019 Parapan American Games will take place from August 23 through September 1 with a record number of 1,850 athletes competing in 17 various sports including athletics, swimming, wheelchair rugby, and more.
Wright explained that he had never expected to join the team. He and his coach discussed the opportunity as a joke a few times during practice. However, they soon realized Wright’s running times were fast enough to qualify for team USA. “One day, (Coach) just called them up and to be on the team, it all depended on what my running times were at Nationals back in 2017,” he said.
Wright’s interest in running first began when he was a high school student. When he noticed most of the other football players were taking track to become faster on the field, joined the track team, too. Wright found it to be the best work out for his legs and, being a kicker on the football team, he knew if he were to become faster, he could kick further.
Now that the Paralympics are getting closer, Wright says his training is more focused on track events rather than on lifting weights. “I have to be careful these days,” he explained. “It’s so easy to get injured that I’m just trying to maintain what I have by staying healthy.”
With Wright’s busy training schedule that has him in the gym five to six times per week, he does not have free time often. However, when he does have spare time, his activities include playing video games with his brother, learning to cook, and showing his Abilene friends what his hometown of Fort Worth is like.
Wright is the only medically recorded person in the world with Arthrogryposis, also known as multiplex congenita, which is congenital joint contracture in two or more areas of the body, in one arm rather than two. As far as every day living goes, Wright’s condition does not hold him back.
“I love answering this question,” he explained.” I tend to forget I even have a disability. I do life the only way I know how. I just do it. I’ve never had to live life any differently.” As a former patient at Scottish Rite Hospital, Wright now volunteers as a counselor working with mentally and physically disabled children and would like to become an Orthotist after graduation.
After the Para Pan-American Games, Wright’s next goal is to compete in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.