“I want to be the best I can be in anything I do.” – Jacqui Kapinowski

Ever the optimist, her positive attitude toward life bubbles through when

you speak with her. It seems impossible given her setbacks, but Kapinowski truly feels something good is always just around the corner of life’s twists and turns. “I have had unbelievable opportunities. I take each day and look at everything as though I’m seeing it for the first time. I know God had a different path planned for me and that I’m here for a purpose. And I’m so grateful for that.” She adds, “If you had asked me 20 years ago if my life was going to be

what it is today, I wouldn’t believe it. It blows my mind how fortunate I’ve been for all these years – the people I have met and that have come in to my life. When one door closes there has always been another door that opened for me, without even looking for it.” And, then, in a most telling expression of her spirit and soul, Kapinowski

Jacqui Kapinowski, a member of the U.S. national team for four seasons, has strived to be the best athlete that she can be.

Continued from Page 13: Jacqui Kapinowski If she wins, Kapinowski will amass her 10th national title (in three

sports) and she’ll proudly represent the USA in the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Florida in late September. Te Will to Do Her Best

To get ready for these events, her training regimen looks like something

out of a medieval torture manual. She gets up at 4:15 a.m and is out on the water by 6 a.m. to row 12K before

returning home for a two-hour break. Ten she heads back out for an aſter- noon of cross-fit training, weight training, swimming, and/or cycling. Six days a week. Every week. Oſten, she races (whatever the sport) against people half her age. As she

explains, “that’s what it takes as an older athlete to compete. I’ve got to train extra hard to be competitive with them.” And, clearly, she WANTS to com- pete. Maybe compete is putting it mildly. She’s a beast. Willing her way through countless competitions (and championships),

Kapinowski says what gets her going is wanting to perform, striving for the next achievement, and reaching new goals. “Tat’s the way I’ve been all my life, even before my wheelchair,” she explains. “I want to be the best I can be in anything I do.” In a testament to her stamina and athleticism, in 2011, she competed in

the Boston marathon, the World Rowing Championships in Slovenia, and the world Wheelchair Curling Championship in the Czech Republic. All in the same year! (Note: She’s the only woman to ever run and wheelchair race the Boston Marathon.) In 2014, while participating in the triathlon world championships in

London, Kapinowski knew she didn’t feel right. She returned home to a diagnosis of cancer, and retired. “I got so scared that I signed up for an Iron- man competition! My life flashed in front of me. I’ve always been an athlete, even pre-wheelchair. I was a big runner my whole life. I didn’t want to give that up,” Kapinowski said. Today, she is cancer-free. Last year Kapinowski again represented Team USA, this time at the

Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro as part of their rowing contingent. She nonchalantly revealed that she competed with two cracked ribs. How did she get them? While training for the Games, of course. Attitude Trumps All

But it’s obvious when talking to her that there is more to it than the com- petition. USA Curling (( 15

surmises, “You know what? I have been so blessed my whole life.” When she’s not training or competing, Kapinowski works at Achilles

International, an organization dedicated to enabling people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events in order to pro- mote personal achievement. Here she gets the opportunity to set up races for the disabled, help the participants with travel logistics, as well as coach- ing them for the races.

Who Me – Retire? Clearly, you can hear the excitement in her voice as she prepares to com-

pete again ... and again ... and again. Determined, focused, and an inspiration for her family and those around

her, the lingering question is – when will she retire from competition? For years now, Jacqui admits, her answer has been “soon.” Nevertheless, she knows that the inevitable will happen eventually. “Te

World Rowing Championships are in Florida this fall, then I’m retiring,” she states definitively. A split second later, as though she thinks someone may hold her to that statement, she quickly blurts out,“ but there’s an Iron- man competition coming up in a couple of months that I’d really like to compete in!” Even though we’re talking by phone, you can feel the smile on her face. Q

Editor’s note: Tis story is part of an ongoing series looking back at Team

USA’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes as we close in on the upcoming Olym- pic and Paralympic Games.

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