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Tokyo Paralympics: Athletes with Idaho ties representing Team USA

This year's Gem State contingent has seven medals from past Paralympics. Two women from the Treasure Valley - a runner and an equestrian - made their debut.
Credit: Loren Worthington
Kory Puderbaugh, 25, lives in Meridian, Idaho. He is a member of the USA Wheelchair Rugby Team, and is in Tokyo for the paralympic games that start this week.

BOISE, Idaho — The 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, postponed to 2021, continue through September 5 in Japan.

Events are livestreamed on the internet and televised daily on two NBC channels available through cable, satellite or streaming television packages. Daytime and prime time coverage will air at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mountain Time Sunday on NBC broadcast affiliates, including KTVB. A schedule of television coverage and livestreams is available here.

Three Idaho athletes who've worked with the Challenged Athletes Foundation are competing in the games this year. Also, an equestrian from Eagle who now lives in Florida competed in dressage, and is bringing home a medal from the team event. A Boise State alum medaled in long jump and high jump events.

Dani Aravich, track and field

Credit: Dupont Photo
Danielle Aravich, a runner on the U.S. Paralympic Team. Aravich was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. (Credit: Dupont Photo)

In her first Paralympic Games, Aravich competed Friday morning in the women's 400-meter T47 run. She posted a time of 1:03.76 in her first-round heat, but did not qualify for the final.

The 25-year-old from Boise is a 2014 graduate of Bishop Kelly High School. She went on to Butler University, where she studied business and marketing, and ran cross country and track at the NCAA Division I level.

Aravich was born without a left hand and forearm. While volunteering as a coach in the adaptive sports community, she began track-and-field training for the 2020 Paralympics, which were postponed until this year. She also caught the attention of a U.S. Paralympic Nordic Ski coach, who in 2019 invited her to training camp. Aravich is hoping to make the team for the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing.

Will Groulx, road cycling

Tokyo is the fifth Paralympics for Groulx, a Boise resident and U.S. Navy veteran. He was scheduled to compete in two road cycling events: the men's H2 time trial and the H1-H2 road race. He crashed during the time trial and finished fourth. Groulx had to pull out of the next day's road race.

Groulx, 47, attended the University of Tennessee on a volleyball scholarship, then served in the U.S. Navy from 1995 to 2001 as a nuclear technician on a fast-attack submarine.

A motorcycle accident left Groulx paralyzed from the chest down. Less than a year after the accident, he got into wheelchair rugby, and was a member of the U.S. Paralympic team in 2004, 2008 and 2012 in that sport.

As a member of the U.S. wheelchair rugby team, Groulx won gold at the Beijing games in 2008, and bronze at Athens 2004 and London 2012. He was team captain in London.

Groulx rides a hand-powered cycle. He won gold in the Rio 2016 road race and silver medals in the 2016 time trial and mixed team relay.

Kory Puderbaugh, wheelchair rugby

Puderbaugh, in his second Paralympics, wears number 22 on the U.S. men's wheelchair rugby team.

The 25-year-old Meridian resident won silver as a member of the team at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, where he was among the team's top four scorers. In Tokyo, Puderbaugh again helped the U.S. reach the gold-medal final.

The American squad opened the preliminary round with a wire-to-wire 63-35 win against New Zealand, followed by much closer wins against Canada and Great Britain.

The U.S. team defeated Australia Saturday morning, by a score of 49-42. It was Australia who took gold against the U.S. in Rio. The U.S. won silver in Tokyo after falling to Great Britain in the gold-medal game by a score of 54-49.

Puderbaugh was born with limb differences, which he explained to KTVB's Maggie O'Mara in a recent "7's Hero" feature.

"I don't have my legs from the knees down. I wear my shoes backward and walk on them. I have two fingers on my right hand and no left arm," he said. "I look at what I have and I make the most of it."

Puderbaugh lived the early part of his childhood in an orphanage in Poland before an American family adopted him. He graduated in 2014 from Eagle High School, where he competed as a wrestler.

After high school, Puderbaugh set his sights on wheelchair rugby, and has since played for the Boise Bombers, San Diego Sharp and Phoenix 360 Heat.

Kate Shoemaker, equestrian

Credit: US Equestrian
Kate Shoemaker and her horse, Solitaer 40, made their Paralympics debut in dressage on August 26, 2021.

Shoemaker, 34, is from Eagle, Idaho, but now lives in Wellington, Florida, where she has a practice as an equine veterinarian.

In her first Paralympics, Shoemaker - along with Roxanne Trunnell and Rebecca Hart - won bronze in team dressage. That's the first-ever medal for the U.S. in team dressage in the Paralympics.

Shoemaker and her horse, Solitaer 40, also competed August 26 in Grade IV dressage, and placed seventh.

A medical condition left Shoemaker with motor control dysfunction, muscle weakness and spasms on the right side of her body. To compensate, she wears an ankle brace and uses special rein stops for added rein control while riding her horse.

Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 won bronze in Grade IV freestyle at the 2018 world championships.

In 2021, before the Paralympics, Shoemaker swept the Grade IV classes and helped earn two Perrigo CPEDI3* team wins at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.

Roderick Townsend

Credit: AP/Eugene Hoshiko
United States' Roderick Townsend competes during the men's high jump T47 at the 2020 Paralympics at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

At the Tokyo Paralympics, Townsend has jumped into the spotlight as a member of Team USA in track and field -- winning silver in the T47 long jump (jumped 7.41 meters - or 24 feet, 3.7 inches) and gold in the T47 high jump, with a new world and Paralympic record -- 2.15 meters, or just over 7 feet. He won gold in both of those events at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Competitions are classified based on disability or impairment. Townsend's Paralympics bio states that he suffered permanent nerve damage to his right shoulder, neck and arm during birth.

Townsend, 29, is a 2015 Boise State University graduate in communications. He competed in multiple indoor track and field events as a Bronco. He is from Stockton, California, and is currently a jumps coach at Northern Arizona University.

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