SPOKANE, Wash. - - The Paralympic summer games begin in London at the end of August. Seven athletes from Team St. Lukes had hopes of making the US team trials. In this weeks Hometown Olympic Dreams, we meet the entire group - the largest from any adaptive sports program in the nation.
Several times a day, six days a week, these athletes race up and down this track: Austin Pruitt, Mikila Salazar, Amberlynn Weber, Scott Gade, Bob Hunt, and Kristin Messer.
The sweat they've poured on this rubber for years here in Spokane will soon fall on the grandest stage yet: the US paralympic trials in Indianapolis.
"It's really cool," says Amberlynn Weber. "When people talk to me about it at school, it's just something that a lot of people are just never going to experience, and it's something really awesome that I will have forever."
Amberlynn and Austin just graduated from Central Valley. Now they are favorites to represent Team USA. "I've raced in New Zealand and Switzerland under Team USA and to have that across your chest, it's a feeling that you can't really describe," says Austin pruitt.
25 year old Kristen will compete in the 100 and 200 meters, while 15 year old Mikila will participate in four different races. "It's pretty exciting," says Mikila Salazar. "This is my first time so I am kind of nervous, but i am excited at the same time."
And then there is Scott. He received his prosthetic just six months ago, while 22 year old Bob has been training with coach Teresa Skinner for 14 years. "There are three guys ahead of me at the moment and I have to beat at least one of them to be on the team, so it's kind of intense," says Bob hunt.
17 year old Michelle Kazuba will swim this week in North Dakota in six different races five years after being forced to go all in. "Teresa just threw me into the pool, pretty much," says Michelle kazuba. "I wasn't really wanting to at all."
From beginnings that overwhelmed, they've overcome. Now Coach Skinner thinks a handful could advance to London. "There is a limited number of spots, and there are 250 people vying for those limited 56 slots so anything can happen and they all have a really good chance," says Skinner. "July 1st will be a memorable, impactful day for sure. That's when they actually announce the team."
When dreams are furthered but can't be dashed. Because this track would tell you these athletes have the hearts of Olympic champions already.