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Chico State runner makes Team USA

Jose Olivar

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Crosby WEB 1.jpg

Chico State track and field runner, Kym Crosby, practices diligently throughout the week at the University Stadium Photo credit: Emily Teague

In 2015, Kym Crosby will toe the line to compete against athletes from around the world.

Crosby, a junior sprinter for Chico State women’s track and field team, has officially been made a member of Team USA’s Paralympic team.

Crosby is visually impaired, due to the lack of pigment in her hair, skin and eyes. This causes twice as much light to reach her pupils and irises. A person with 20/100 vision is considered legally blind. Crosby has a vision of 20/400 in both eyes.

As a member of the team, she will get the chance to travel to several countries to represent the United States in competition. Being a part of the national team will also give Crosby the opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

As a Wildcat, Crosby has excelled, bringing with her the same success she has experienced throughout high school.

It did not take long for others to take notice.

After Crosby’s second year with Chico State, Cathy Seller, the high performance director of Team USA, reached out to Oliver Hanf, Chico State’s head men’s track and field coach, about inviting Crosby to become a member of the national team.

“I was thrilled,” Hanf said. “I’ve had zero experience with that branch of the sport, so I was a bit taken by surprise. But it was quite clear why she was recruited.”

Crosby said that being invited to join the national team did not sink in right away, and it was not until she got her Team USA gear in the mail that she realized it was all real.

“I didn’t really know what to say,” Crosby said. “I was just like trying on all this stuff, like, ‘Yeah, this is awesome,’ and I finally feel like my dream is starting to come true.”

Next year, she will go to the World Championships in Qatar, and the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto.

She will also get the opportunity to qualify and compete for the 2016 Paralympic Games, her ultimate goal, where she knows that the level of competition will be tougher, she said.

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Photo credit: Emily Teague

“The big thing is getting into the podium on 2016, so since everybody is shooting for that, it’s going to be harder,” she said. “It’s almost like you have one shot, so you better make it worth it and do your best.”

This summer, Crosby met her coach for the national team, Joaquim Cruz, after competing in her first Paralympic meet in Arizona.

Cruz said that seeing Crosby’s athleticism and experience on the track was the reason why he invited her to train. It has been a huge benefit having a woman of her caliber with the team.

After seeing Crosby compete, Cruz invited her to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, where she spent six weeks training over the summer.

“It was a little challenging at first, before I even started,” Crosby said. “I was really nervous, because I thought that I would get my butt kicked while I was down there.”

Cruz put her through rigorous endurance training and sand drills to prepare her.

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Photo credit: Emily Teague

Despite the training being hard at times, her coach had a way of making the experience a lot more fun by slowly easing her in through the process, Crosby said.

“All I had to do was wake up, eat, go train for a few hours out of the day, and then I had the rest of the day to myself,” she said. “It was like heaven for an athlete.”

Crosby is back in Chico for the semester, pursuing a degree in kinesiology. She will be flying back to Chula Vista in the spring to continue her training.

One of the challenges she is facing while being back in school and working out with the team is making sure that she does not over-train, she said. With the world championship still a year away, she wants to be sure her body does not peak too early.

“I’m definitely anxious,” she said. “I’m ready for this year to be over, because I just want to get back down there and just train.”

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Photo credit: Emily Teague

While Crosby is in school, Chico State women’s track and field coach Robert Nooney is one of the people helping her stay focused.

Nooney said he talked to Crosby about keeping her focus and dedication the same as it has always been. Because of her maturity, he is confident that she will be able to maintain her composure.

“There is something motivating her just like a job is motivating another athlete, so it’s kind of the same thing,” Nooney said. “I don’t see her trying harder now because of that. She’s developing and evolving as a student-athlete, and this is just another motivator.”

Crosby said that becoming a part of the national team is an experience that has made her more patriotic, and she feels like she is making everyone proud.

“Being visually impaired, I know that I can’t serve my country, or do anything like that,” Crosby said. “So I feel like this is a way I can serve my country: running for them and representing for them and making them proud.”

For more on Crosby’s background, check out The Orion’s earlier story:

https://theorion.com/blog/2013/09/18/sights-set-on-rio/

Jose Olivar can be reached at [email protected] or @jpu_olivar on Twitter.

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Chico State runner makes Team USA