ATHENS-----The United States Olympic Committee honored former Bulldog Jarryd Wallace and his teammates on the World Champion 4x100-meter relay team Tuesday in New York.
Wallace along with Blake Leeper, Richard Browne and Jerome Singleton were recognized as the “Paralympic Team of the Year” by the USOC who held a special event at the DoubleTree Hilton in Times Square as part of the 100-day countdown to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Winners were selected from the female, male and team of the year nominations of the National Governing Bodies for the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games sports, as well as select, designated entities within the U.S. Paralympic Movement.
Wallace was part of the gold-medal winning relay team at the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France in July. They set a world record time of 40.73, shattering the old mark of 41.78, held by South Africa. Additionally, Wallace won gold in the T44 200 event. The relay team missed out on a medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games due to an exchange-zone violation and then stormed back 10 months later to earn the top spot on the podium at the World Championships.
“It was an awesome trip to New York and great to hang out with the guys from the relay team because I hadn’t seen them since France,” Wallace said. “One thing a lot people don’t know is that when we won in France, it was only the second time we’d ever run together in a race. We’re planning on training more together and hopefully get more opportunities to race and drop our times.
“To receive the Team of the Year award, it was really special,” Wallace added. “We were introduced last, and it was neat to watch everybody else get their award, and it was just humbling to be up there on stage with the other award winners.”
Before the awards banquet, Wallace was among 50 Olympians and Paralympians that took part in a meet-and-greet autograph session in New York City’s Times Square. A three-block section was closed off for the event that featured fan sport experiences, Team USA giveaways and sponsors. Also, Wallace was part of a group that rung the bell to close the stock market and appeared on the giant NASDAQ screen in Times Square.
Athens, Georgia will continue to serve as Wallace’s home base. His training focus for the next two years will be for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games (Toronto, Canada), the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships (Doha, Qatar), and 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
“I’m thankful to UGA for allowing me to use their facilities and train here, and it’s great to be a part of the Bulldog family,” Wallace said. “Even though I’m now wearing the red, white and blue, I’ll always be a Bulldog.”
Wallace, a former state-ranked athlete in both track and tennis at Oconee County High School, signed a track scholarship with the Bulldogs in 2007. However, due to compartment syndrome in his right leg and subsequent surgeries, he was never able to compete. In February of 2010, he made the decision to have his leg amputated with the goal of not just being able to run again but to compete one day as a Paralympian. He is the son of Jeff and Sabina Wallace. Jeff is the head women’s tennis coach at UGA while Sabina is a former All-SEC distance runner for the Bulldogs.
The USOC SportsMan and SportsWoman of the Year awards have been presented annually to the top overall male and female athletes from USOC member organizations since 1974. In 1996, a team category was added to recognize the outstanding achievements of team members who might not otherwise have been eligible for individual awards. The Paralympian of the Year award was introduced in 2004, and the category was expanded to the Paralympic SportsWoman, SportsMan and Team of the Year awards in 2009.
For more on Jarryd Wallace, check out his website at www.aleginfaith.com.