Paralympic wheelchair racer Cheri Becerra-Madsen spoke with the News-Press Thursday after having arrived in San Diego, Calif., for a week long training session, just one part of her training for the Paralympic World Games coming up in October in Doha, Qatar.
Far away from Cheri, too far to be sure, her daughter, Reese Madsen, prepared for her first junior high volleyball game.
And there was no doubting how Cheri felt about that. Her tone was definitely emotional.
Mom was missing Reese.
No doubt, Cheri will hear a full account of the volleyball match in Nebraska City. And she knows that Reese understands what is going on here.
Cheri is chasing her Paralympic dreams. The 2016 games in Rio De Janeiro draw ever closer and the work must continue in order for Cheri to be racing at that event.
“She knows. She is an athlete,” Cheri said of Reese. “She wants me to go to Rio.”
Cheri’s athletic pursuits have provided great bonding time. Reese wants to improve her athletic abilities. And so does mom. So the two work out together.
And when something like this, a training camp, prevents Cheri from being home, there is the comfort of those moments.
Reese attended the national meet with her mom at Minnesota earlier this year. And so she’s been a part of what Cheri goes through to race and has seen the competitive nature of the race in person.
Most recently, Cheri attended the ParaPan Am Games in Toronto, Canada, where she pushed through rain and wind and scored medals, a sliver for the 400 meter, and a bronze for the 800 meters.
Since the weather in Toronto was less than wonderful, Cheri said the times were not as good as they could have been either.
She raced 2:13 in the 800, which she said was really slow. That was the rain race.
“We still push in the rain. We just don’t push in lightning,” Cheri said.
So there was plenty of rain on the track. There was rain on her grips and on the wheels of her racing wheelchair.
In the 400, the precipitation wasn’t there, but wind took its place and drug down on all of the racers. By the finishing kick, the racers didn’t have any left in the tank. Cheri raced the 400 in just over a minute, but said she doesn’t remember the last time she was over a minute for that race in competition.
Weather is part of the deal. Track is an outdoor sport.
And Cheri said she enjoyed scoring those medals.
Now it’s on to the world games.
Getting ready will be extra tough. The scheduling of worlds means that Cheri’s season is longer than normal. She would normally entering a quiet period her competitive calendar.
That’s not possible this year.
After returning from San Diego, Cheri will continue to train and get better. She has a stretch of road near Hamburg that she says is a great place to train because it builds her endurance.
Cheri will leave for the world games Oct. 13 and come back Nov. 1.
After that, she plans to take a month away from the racing chair. She will continue training, but her focus will be on swimming and lifting weights instead of pushing the chair.
A return trip to San Diego’s Olympic Training Center is planned for February. Nationals will be in June in North Carolina. And the results of that meet will determine who goes to Rio for the big show later in the year.
“That’s the goal. That’s been the goal for the last couple of years,” Cheri said.
Training and racing will be on the docket, and will continue to be a priority.
But the significance of family isn’t to be questioned either.
Reese can expect a big hug and lots of family time when mom gets back from California next week.