Pierce '18 Attending 2019 ParaPan American Games
Conner Pierce '18 has qualified for and is competing in the upcoming 2019 Para-Pan American Games in Peru, August 23 - September 1.
The 2019 Para-Pan American Games are an international multi-sport competition for athletes with physical, intellectual, and visual impairments. The Games attract the best Para-Athletes from North, Central, and South America. These Games are congruent to their able-bodied counterpart, the Pan-American Games, and are hosted in the same event venue and host city.
Learn about Conner's journey and success... "On the road from Palsy to Paralympian."
In early March, I was flagged as potential talent for this competition in the midst of my collegiate season. The US Para-Pan American Games delegation selected a large pool of Para-Athletes from the United States. Ultimately, after a strong performance at the Desert Challenge Championships in Arizona, I was selected as one of the top US contenders over the 100-meter distance.
For me, this journey towards competing over the 100-meter distance in Stars and Stripes began years earlier. Born with Cerebral Palsy, I struggled in sports for most of my young life before hitting my stride at SAAS. I began running Cross Country and, although the sport posed physical difficulties early on, I gave each race my best effort. I knew I wasn’t going to be the fastest one out there. So I did my best to focus on what I could control. I focused on whoever I could attach myself to and maintain contact with during the race. My teammates were very supportive of me from the get go; the fact that I was disabled wasn’t really that big of a deal.
The following year, I turned out for Track and Field, changing my focus to sprinting. I ran in the 2018 Washington State Championship, taking 2nd in the 100, 200, and 400-meter dashes. My coaches, Gavin Tucker and Erin Aitchison, were willing to support and meet me where I was to help me accomplish my goals, one rep at a time.
From that point, I put my all into training, running multiple times per day. This was my final year of high school sports, and I wanted to do something big. In 2018, I took Gold in the 100 and 200-meter dashes and Silver in the 400-meter dash, was named WIAA's Athlete of the Week, and awarded the SAAS Upper School Athletic Contribution Award, on the male side. These accomplishments rounded out my high school athletics career on a positive note.
Strong. Positive. Accomplished. Soon after graduating from SAAS, I began competing internationally.
In the Fall of 2018, I started running Track and Field for the University of British Columbia. After a successful season training with and competing for UBC, I ran at the 2019 Desert Challenge, for the second year in a row. My 100-meter time from this event was fast enough to catapult me onto the Team USA roster. This summer has been a long period of training - weight training, block work, long sprinting reps, and volume training. It has been a huge personal commitment and has commanded my attention and dedication more than anything else in my life.
I owe a lot to the SAAS community for supporting me on this long sprint of my life, this road from Palsy to Paralympian.
I want to bring my very best on race day. When I am down in those starting blocks, I will be thinking hard about the difficulties I had to rise above growing up, commitment I have sunk into my training, and the support of my teammates, family, and friends. I think about how hard I have fought to clench this opportunity. I am not about to let it go.
Outside of track and field, I am studying Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia, motivational speaking, dabbling in bodybuilding, and writing a memoir called “Long Sprint: My Unique Run from Palsy to Paralympian."
I owe a lot to the SAAS community for supporting me on this long sprint of my life, this road from Palsy to Paralympian. My coaches, friends, and teammates have allowed me to succeed at the collegiate level, believe in myself and my ambitions, and make it onto the most prestigious Track and Field team in the world, Team USA.
We congratulate Conner on his success and wish him the best of luck at the Para-Pan American Games.