Will compete in Swiss-held championship
By Brook Stallings.
Steve Ferriera has qualified for the 2009 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) Junior World Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland, to be held from July 15 to July 19. He will represent the United States in the shotput and discus competitions. The Junior World Championships are held yearly. In July 2008, 19 nations competed at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The 2009 games will be for track and field only. This year, Team USA has 23 members ranging from 14 to 20 years of age. Ferreira qualified for the games by winning a bronze metal in shotput at the 2008 Junior World Championships, and by high scores in national and international field events. He holds the United States under-20 record in shotput and discus in his class. Ferreira is applying for a grant from Challenged Athletes Foundation in San Diego, California to pay for part of the $6000 trip to Switzerland. Track and field sports for athletes with disabilities have a system that classifies athletes according to their type and level of disability. Ferreira is in class F32, which is reserved for athletes with moderate to severe movement problems from cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, or stroke. Athletes with disabilities can compete at all levels, from local to international. The pinnacle of competition is the Paralympic Games, which are held in the same year and venue as the Olympic Games. This year the Paralympics were held in Beijing two weeks after the Bejing Olympics. The Paralympic Games are not associated with the Special Olympics. Ferreira’s major athletic goal is to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He said that the 2009 games in Switzerland will help him achieve this goal by pushing him to train harder, grow as an athlete, and break his own records. He also enjoys sports competition for it’s own sake. He started playing adaptive baseball at a young age. Later, he played basketball with Northwest Adaptive Sports in Seattle. When he became too old for the basketball program, he tried field sports, and discovered a hidden talent for club throwing, shotput, and discus. Ferreira also began playing wheelchair rugby about a year ago. The intensely competitive nature of the sport, also called Murderball, is what attracted Ferreira to it. He plays for the Seattle Slam, which competes regionally and has ambitions to qualify for the national tournament this year.