McWaters sets sights on London Paralympic Games

Published 11:00 pm Monday, June 27, 2011

The 2012 London Paralympic Games are now within reach for Pike County’s Jonah McWaters.

After finishing second in both of his specialties at the U.S. Paralympic Championships held at Ansin Sports Complex in Maramar, Fla., this month, McWaters is a potential to make the U.S. Team next year, said Bob Lambert, former Troy University track and field coach.

“Competing head-to-head with members of the United States Paralympic Team that represented the U.S. in Christchurch, New Zealand in January, Jonah showed that he has a good shot at making the team,” Lambert said.

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McWaters is a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at Troy University and specializes in the javelin and the discus.

“In Jonah’s first competition at this level, in the javelin, Jonah threw a lifetime best in the F-55 classification category, which is for athletes who are paralyzed below their abdominal muscles,” Lambert said. “His opening throw of 61feet, 6 inches was more than four feet farther than his previous best effort. That throw earned him second place behind retired U.S. Army Specialist Jose Nieves who threw just 12 inches farther.”

McWaters had the second best throw of his career in the discus with a toss of 66 feet, 8 inches. He placed second behind U.S. Paralympic team member Scott Winkler.

“Jonah had a real good toss even though he had not trained for more than a month due to a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder,” Lambert said. “He really impressed everyone that watched him compete, especially the USA Track and Field Paralympic Head Administrator Cathy Sellers.”

Lambert said that he and McWaters were disappointed that his classification was so high.

“Jonah has virtually no feeling from his abs down,” Lambert said. “We were hoping for an F-54 which would have given Jonah victories in both events. However, his classification is still not finalized and that gives us some hope that better things could happen in the near future.

“One thing we know for sure is that Jonah is now a legitimate contender to make the 2012 Paralympic Team.”

After a medical evaluation and potential surgery to repair the labrum, McWaters will begin a rigorous rehabilitation and training program to prepare him to compete early next year in advance of the Paralympic Trials to be held in Orlando in June.

“Now that we know that Jonah is legit and that the U.S. Paralympic Committee is interested in him, we’re going to have to go into the fundraising mode to support his traveling, entry fees, and so forth during the first six months of 2012,” Lambert said. “So far, Jonah and his parents have paid for virtually everything, with the exception of a very generous support check from Old Lebanon Baptist Church.”

The fundraising goal is $5,000, which will not only cover expenses, it will allow for the purchase of a custom built throwing chair that should optimize McWaters’ throwing ability.

“The chair that Jonah is using now wasn’t built for an athlete with his capabilities,”

Lambert said. “Jonah could improve markedly with a new bio-mechanically designed chair.”

An account has been set up at TB&T to support McWaters’ Paralympic training expenses. Donations may be made to TB&T into the account of “Jonah McWaters Paralympics.” Corporate sponsorships are another avenue of support for McWaters.

For more information, call 670-5712.