Chelsea McClammer: State Champion and Veteran Paralympian

Aside from missing the first two weeks of her freshman year in high school, veteran Paralympian Chelsea McClammer said that going to Beijing to compete was a great experience. Only 14 years old when she wheeled the 800 meters in the now-famous Bird’s Nest, Chelsea wasn’t the most experienced racer in China; however, she said racing in the 2008 Paralympics will help her when she goes back in 2012. “I won’t be as nervous,” she says. In China, she placed eighth in the world and was also the youngest member of the US Paralympics team.  She smashed her previous 800 time, finishing in 1:51, a time that would put many professional runners to shame.

After her Olympic debut, Chelsea came back to start her freshman year in high school at Kiona-Benton City High School in Benton City, Washington. She was received with a hero’s welcome; her homecoming was integrated into the school’s own homecoming assembly, which was held the week she began classes. Although she was late getting started, Chelsea joined the school’s cross country team, coached by Jim Perry. After a season of only a few meets, she raced at the state meet on Saturday, winning with a time of 7:29 for 2.1 miles. Chelsea set a new state record, and only beat her friend, Amber Webber, by one second to take the state title. “I was excited to race Amber, I hadn’t seen her in a while,” Chelsea said. “I was a little nervous, but not as nervous as in Beijing because there weren’t as many people.” She also said she just focused on staying ahead, but also having fun. On crossing the finish line, she said, “I was like ‘Wow.’ It was really cool to represent Ki-Be and take the gold.”
Besides track and cross country, you can find Chelsea playing basketball or tennis; snowskiing and waterskiing. She competes for Kiona-Benton City High School and for Team at St. Luke’s in Washington state and also for the US Paralympics team.