In that time, McElroy said the growth in the OKC program has been impressive because of investments in training facilities along the river, as well as attracting high-caliber coaches.
In April, Jacqui Kapinowski migrated from New Jersey. Having previously competed on the U.S. Paralympic wheelchair curling team, she sought a more active summer sport. After discussing kayaking with team coaches, she was invited to OKC to try her hand at adaptive rowing.
“It was for a four-day camp, but four months later, I’m still here,” Kapinowski said. “I guess they saw my potential because they asked meto stay and train. I was taken aback by it, since I thought it was just a camp. I didn’t realize I was at an Olympic/ Paralympic training center. I thought I was just down here to try out rowing.”Training here is the complete package.
—Kaitlyn McElroyKapinowski suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder resulting from a rare form of bacterial meningitis that is usually fatal. She’s survived the infection twice, but the disease has left her with stiff person syndrome, a rare, progressive disorder with no known cure.
Despite the odds, she fits in Paralympic training and qualifying races with year-round marathons.
“It’s one of those things that you never think could happen to you until it does,” she said. “But my husband keeps me going, keeps pushing me to remain active. That’s the hardest part of training in Oklahoma City: being away from my family. ... Thank God for Skype.”