Calvin College sophomore Simon Detmer has been selected to compete in the 2019 World Para Athletics Junior Championships from Aug. 1-4 in Nottwil, Switzerland.
Detmer was selected to the team by U.S. Paralympics Track & Field. Detmer will be one of many of the young athletes between the ages of 14 and 19 making their international debuts with the U.S. team at Sport Arena Nottwil, which hosts the championships for the second time after the inaugural event in 2017.
A native of Chicago and a graduate of Timothy Christian High School, Detmer has competed in the 200 and 400 meter dashes at sanctioned competitions sponsored by the U.S. Paralympic Committee. He posted times worthy of consideration for the national team and was selected to the national team in late June.
"I am honored to represent our country at this event," said Detmer. "I am also honored to represent Calvin University and Christ through this opportunity."
Detmer has right-side hemiplegia, which causes the right side of his body to have muscle weakness, coordination weakness, and partial paralysis.
He began running in high school. "When I joined high school, I came from a family line of runners, so I wanted run. A few weeks into high school though—I think it was my third race in my career—I fractured my fibula, so that was pretty discouraging," he said. "However, I just felt like the Lord never told me to stop. I ran all four years of high school, cross country and track. Unfortunately, I was injured all four years, but I was able to make the Illinois State Championships senior year and scored for our team, which was really a blessing."
Last spring, Detmer had the opportunity to compete at the Paralympics, a major international multi-sport event that involves athletes who have a range of disabilities. "Earlier my family heard about the Paralympics from friends, and they said maybe Simon is fast enough. So, senior year we got in contact with the Paralympics committee; they got me hooked up with coaches in the Midwest and I was able to meet the recruiter for the U.S. Paralympics and that was really a blessing," he said.
In addition, he is a member of the Calvin men's cross country and men's track and field teams.
Cross country coach and distance track coach Brian Diemer is very impressed with Detmer's outlook on running and on life in general. "He doesn't let small or even major things set himself back and tell him he can't do something," he said. "Simon brings something special to the table. He brings a positive outlook on everything. He gives everything he has, and our guys see that and learn from it."
The upcoming world championships are organized for two age groups – youth athletes aged between 14 and 17 years and junior athletes aged between 18 and 19 years – and serve as a pathway for talented young athletes towards regional and world championships, as well as the Paralympic Games. Approximately 350 athletes from over 50 nations are expected to compete in 2019. For more information, visit the event website at: https://www.nottwil2019.ch/en/