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Three local sailors reaching for dream of Paralympics

11:25 AM, Jan 9, 2006   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - For team Sail La Vie, practice is crucial. In two days, all three members leave for Australia to sail a 23-foot Sonar keelboat race that could change the next two years of their lives. 

Jennifer French, Paralympic Hopeful: "This is a milestone for our team. We've been prepping for the last year to attend this event. We need to place 7th or above to be able to qualify the United States in the sonar for the Paralympic Games." 

Watching them sail, you would never know they are disabled. Each teammate is, but their disabilities neither intimidate nor slow any of them down. 

Brad Johnson, Paralympic Hopeful: "Fear is not an option. It's not even part of the equation at all." 

Jennifer French, Paralympic Hopeful: "We compete on on an aggressive level just as much as the Olympic athletes do." 

They push the limits every day and know that in Australia, in order to qualify the United States for the Paralympics in 2008 in Beijing, they have to be 100 percent on their game. 

Jennifer French, Paralympic Hopeful: "Tampa Bay's known for our light breezes, very comfortable sailing. Where as, we'll have a lot more challenges; there, they have a sea breeze called 'the doctor' that kicks in every afternoon which is about 20 25 knots, which will make it very exciting, adventurous sailing there." 

Each of these disabled sailors is a winner with or without a medal, all overcoming seemingly impossible odds in their personal lives.

  Brad Kendell, Paralympic Hopeful: "Get involved. Get out there. Start living your life again. That's what we've all done."

You can follow the team's progress on their website.

Sara Dorsey, Tampa Bay's 10 News

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