Jarryd Wallace is going to have his work cut out for him following up his 2013.
Last summer saw the Paralympic athlete win a gold medal and set a new world record as a member of the United States’ 4×100-meter relay team at the IPCA World Championship in France.
In October he and his relay teammates were named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Team of the Year.
And earlier this month he was named the USA Track and Field Para Male Athlete of the Year.
“It’s all really just humbling and speaks volumes about the amazing team I’ve had this entire time,” said Wallace, a former Oconee County High track and cross country start and Georgia signee who underwent a partial leg amputation less than four years ago. “The people who have come around me and supported me have really let me go after my dreams.”
Wallace received the most recent honor — a surprise and the first of its kind — on Dec. 7, when he was a guest speaker at the USA Track & Field Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.
To come so far so quickly after surgery to combat compartment syndrome has caught much of the track and field world by surprise, and the success is driving Wallace to soak in all he can about his sport while spreading a message of compassion and faith.
“Coming from a competitive background, you always want to run faster and perform well, but at the same time I look at running as something I love to do and that gives me a platform to really encourage and love other people,” Wallace said. “So the goal continues to just be kind of twofold: First, I want to continue to run and succeed because it gives me a platform, and second because I just love to do it.
“… I don’t put much pressure on myself to perform at a crazy, elite level. I just want to grow and learn all I can about the sport.”
Wallace recently hired a new coach, Nick Taylor, and will compete in a 60-meter race on Feb. 2 in Birmingham, England. Wallace’s race is for para athletes but is part of an able-bodied meet and ties in a vision of all track and field athletes competing together at the same venues, possibly at the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore.
“There’s so much that has happened in the past few years in our sport and our times are constantly dropping to the point where we are competitive in the track and field world period,” Wallace said. “I think it would be really exciting to get some more exposure for the sport, and a lot of events overseas are noticing that and adding Paralympic events to able-bodied meets.
“… We all share the same track, we’re all running the same 100 meters, the same 200 meters, and at the end of the day it’s a cool way to make the sport of track and field grow.”