Disabled rowers train Boathouse for Paralympic Games at Chesapeake

Angela Madsen's passion for the ocean cannot be easily quelled. A botched back surgery in 1993 robbed the surfer of her ability to walk and, presumably, her avid connection with the water.

Despite her disability, she took to a new sport called adaptive rowing, which is a category of rowing specifically designed for the physically disabled. Recently, Madsen was in Oklahoma City training, in hopes of joining the USRowing national adaptive team at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, to be held Sept. 6-17 on the other side of the globe.

"Adaptive rowing is just as technical for us as it is for regular rowers, as far as blade length, pitch, playing with our spread," Madsen said. "It's a technical sport with a lot more finesse. It gives me an opportunity to get out of my chair, into a boat and out into the water."

This marks Madsen's sixth year with the national team, and she will be vying for a place on a two-person boat constructed specifically for the competitors based on their disability.

The University of Central Oklahoma, a U.S. Paralympic training site, invited the USRowing team because of the Chesapeake Boathouse's accommodating layout.

"Hopefully we can increase employment for the disabled and motivate people with disabilities," Madsen said. "Charles Martin

  • or