Sometime during the summer of 2016, I heard about a contest AT&T was holding through a friend of mine, called #BeyondLimits. In order to participate, entrants had to submit a five minute or less video of how they lived beyond limits with their disability and/or their mobility device. Well, I won the contest! My grand prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to Colorado Springs to spend the day at the US Olympic Training Center. The best part is that my trip was scheduled to take place only a few weeks before Olympians headed to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to compete there in the summer Olympics! Here’s a recap of my visit to the extremely wheelchair accessible US Olympic Training Center.
Upon my arrival at the center, I was greeted by Paralympian Rudy Garcia-Tolson, a double-amputee swimmer who has won medals in Beijing and London, and would go on two months later to win silver in Rio. we started at the main visitor center, where they were showing videos and slideshows on gigantic screens in 360° of past Olympic performances. For whatever reason, the Olympics always makes me extremely emotional, and I teared up
plenty during this visit! In the welcome Center, I was also able to get up close and personal with a US bobsled, and take a picture with Rudy and wear one of his medals.
Next we saw one of the training facilities, where several Olympians and Paralympians were training on the state-of-the-art equipment. We also saw some of the specialized rooms for training, including an altitude chamber where oxygen levels can be adjusted to simulate various altitudes around the world. After that, we went to the pool, were Rudy has spent many many hours training, as well as the firing range used by Olympic marksmen.
The last official part of the tour was lunch. That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you know everything that goes into feeding Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Every single piece of food in the cafeteria had a calorie count and every possible nutritional value you can possibly think of. These athletes are taking in thousands of calories every day, so it’s critical that they get the highest quality food possible. And I got to eat some of it for lunch!
Of course, a visit to the US Olympic Training Facility wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the gift shop. I loaded up on as much US Olympic team gear as my wallet would allow! But most important to note is that everywhere we went was completely wheelchair accessible because the entire campus is also being used by Paralympic athletes who have a variety of disabilities. I got to meet two of them in the cafeteria, and it was so exciting to hear their stories and see the kind of training they were going through even though they didn’t have the same amount of physical function as typical Olympic athletes. This was such an inspiring experience, and I would highly recommend it for anyone visiting the Colorado Springs area!