COLORADO SPRINGS — Seven-time Paralympic medalist Amanda McGrory has made a name for herself in long distance wheelchair racing. According to McGrory, the equipment that she competes with is created by combining a litany of technological innovations with her own preferences, fine tuned by years of athletic experience.
McGrory says that even an entry level racing wheelchair can cost several thousand dollars. Her chair, created through a sponsorship with Honda, is as far away from entry level as physically possible.
The chair is fully carbon-fiber, where most racing wheel chairs are made of aluminum, and created by combining McGrory's preferences with a 3D-scan of her entire body.
From there the chair is put through a battery of tests, including extensive aerodynamics research conducted using a wind tunnel.
McGrory says her chair is one of only a dozen in the world, and each year she receives a new one, the old one retired.
The chair, while an amazing feat of technology and ingenuity, would be nothing without the incredible athlete steering it.
Having already competed in three Paralympic games, with plans to compete in 2021 Tokyo Paralympic games, McGrory says her training regimen is intense. "Peak training for me, I'm in my chair six days a week, twice a day, up to 100 miles a week, so that is a lot of time to spend in the chair."
It's all to prepare for her distance competitions, which she describes as dynamic.
"In addition to setting a pace and running a course, you're also commanding this wild piece of super high-tech equipment," McGrory said.
For McGrory, primarily a distance athlete, racing chairs can last a number of years; however, because she is sponsored by Honda, she receives a new chair each year.
"So I fly to Tokyo once a year, get measured and they build a chair off of that scan."
McGrory also works as the archivist and collections curator for the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and hopes she can try to induct her old racing chair before it is permanently retired.