June 2017

Paralympian to run for U Arkansas

The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in May reported that double-amputee Hunter Woodhall has committed to run track for the university in the 2017-2018 season.

Woodhall won a silver medal in the 200 m and a bronze in the 400 m at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio di Janeiro, Brazil. During his high school career (he graduated in June) in Utah, he set records in the 400 m (46.24 seconds) and the 200 m (21.17 seconds).

Woodhall, who was born with fibular hemimelia that led to bilateral below knee amputations before he was a year old, runs on carbon-fiber running prostheses. A rule interpretation made in 2015 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s and Women’s Track and Field/ Cross Country Rules Committee allows Woodhall to compete against able-bodied runners, despite claims from the international track and field community that prostheses could confer an unfair advantage.

Committee members settled on the new reading of the rule on the use of technical devices after hearing a presentation from Alena Grabowski, PhD, assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research has found that prostheses-wearing athletes aren’t likely to have an unfair speed advantage.

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