LivAbility Magazine
Desert Challenge. Several athletes start to run at the beginning of a race.

Athletes Compete in International Paralympic Qualifier

Story by Summer Sorg

Sweat forms in beads on athletes and audience members alike as they gather in the relentless heat at the Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe to support their favorite para athletes. Dirt flies, grass is shredded and triumph reigns as a world record is broken- all a result of the 9th annual Desert Challenge World Para Athletics Grand Prix, a four-day track and field meet hosted by Arizona Disabled Sports (AzDS).

Sixteen countries were represented by athletes ranging from 6-years-old to adulthood in the Challenge on June 14-17, 2018. Over 424 participants and guides competed; 46 of them vying for a spot on Team USA. According to AzDS, the 2018 World Para Athletics Grand Prix was the only international Paralympic qualifier in the United States this year.

History was made Saturday, June 16, when Brenna Clark, from Los Angeles, California, crossed the finish line at 55.99 seconds in the women’s T20 400-meter run, setting a new world record.

Clark previously took gold in the 2017 London World Para Athletics Championships in the 400-meter, setting the former world record of 56.33 seconds in the T20 class (a classification broadly covering athletes with intellectual disabilities).

For more details and results, visit the Desert Challenge website:

Summer Sorg

Summer Sorg

Summer Sorg is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication specializing in photography and digital journalism. Her heart lies in storytelling, nature and exploring. Summer plans to use her talents to highlight important issues and inspire people to care.