Wallace takes on new challenge at UCO Endeavor Games, claims gold in shot put
EDMOND, Okla. — Armed with a new running prosthesis, Ryan Wallace took on a new challenge. The South Lake Tahoe native competed at the 17th annual UCO Endeavor Games, a competition for athletes with disabilities held June 9-12 at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“This was an amazing experience — I didn’t know what to expect,” Wallace said. “The competitive environment and incredibly resilient athletes was inspirational, to say the least.”
Wallace delivered a gold medal in shot put, silver in powerlifting and took fourth in discus at the Endeavor Games. The single-leg amputee’s performances were made possible after receiving a running prosthesis from nonprofit Amputee Blade Runners in May — the Tennessee-based organization also sponsored a team at the competition.
“I could not believe how high the level of competition was, especially the top athletes in each event,” Wallace said. “It was wonderful how the intensity was woven with friendliness and camaraderie. I would define it as a competitive support group.”
In the shot put, Wallace didn’t realize he had won gold until running into a fellow competitor — who, while wearing a silver medal, joked that he wished the 32-year-old from the South Shore didn’t make the trip to Oklahoma. Wallace delivered the top marks competing in a throwing pit with fellow first-time participants, and his throw of 9.4 meters held up across the board.
“I was fortunate to attend a clinic the day before the games began and had my motion tweaked by a coach experienced in training above-knee amputees,” Wallace said. “My running blade is sweet for shot put because I can load a lot of energy into it.”
Wallace described the powerlifting event as challenging, largely based on strict rules and rigid judging that could easily result in disqualifications. Most of the competitors were nervous as a result, but Wallace was not — he finished second with a lift of 140 kilograms (308 pounds).
“Due to my background in wrestling, I was relaxed. I was just happy that none of these huge guys were going to try to hurt me,” Wallace said. “Earning silver in this event was so gratifying because I spent a lot of hours underneath a loaded bar working for this goal.”
Outside of competition, Wallace said the most important thing he gained from the Endeavor Games was the knowledge, connections and increased motivation to achieve his ultimate athletic goal. In four years, he aims to compete at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.
“Sometimes I wonder why people are so moved by my accomplishments,” Wallace said. “I often get thanked by people saying something along the lines of ‘You have one leg, so you give me no excuse.’
“I was able to feel that exact feeling when I saw competitors excelling through conditions much more challenging than mine.”
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