Former Airline star Jaquvis Hart will be among 115 athletes competing for Team USA in the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
A record 4,500 athletes are expected to compete Sept. 7-18.
Hart, a three-sport standout at Airline, will be competing in the 400-meter dash. The Paralympics features athletes with a range of disabilities. Hart was born without the lower half of his left arm.
The first Paralympic Games were held in 1948 and limited to a small group of British World War II veterans. The first Games open to all athletes were in Rome in 1960.
According to the Rio Games website, athletes competing in Athletics, which include track and field events, “are allocated to a sport class, with each class consisting of athletes who have impairments that cause approximately the same amount of activity in disciplines — running, wheelchair racing, jumps and throws.”
Competing in the T47 class, Hart won the gold medal and set a world record in the International Paralympic Committee World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in October. He ran a 48.17, beating Jamaica’s Shane Hudson by more than a half-second. Hart’s previous best time in Paralympic competition was 49.40.
The 21-year-old Hart graduated from Airline in 2013. He was a standout football player, wrestler and track athlete. In football, he helped Airline win a share of the District 1-5A title and was named second-team All-District at defensive back.
He also won the regional wrestling title his senior year and the 400 at the state outdoor meet. Hart is currently a member of the Louisiana Tech track and field team, classified as a redshirt sophomore.
In May of 2015, Hart was honored with Louisiana Tech Courage Award at the school’s first TECHSPY’s ceremony.
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com