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U of I Recognized As Paralympic Training Site

University of Illinois graduate Tatyana McFadden competing in the 2012 Paralympic games.

University of Illinois graduate Tatyana McFadden, left, looks up as Edith Wolf of Switzerland, second right, leads in their women's 1500-meter T54 category heat at the 2012 Paralympics games, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in London (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

The University of Illinois’ Urbana campus has become an official training site for wheelchair racing in the Paralympic games.  The US Olympic Committee made the announcement Friday.

The distinction was awarded to the U of I's Division of Wheelchair Sources & Educational Services, part of the College of Applied Health Sciences in Illinois. 

The 2,100 square foot training facility includes specialized equipment like roller stations and Nordic ski weights. 

Much of the training facility was made possible through a $160,000 donatation from BP for the site. 

That funding provides for the more than 20 U of I athletes competing in the Paralymics, as well as four USOC athletes not attending the university.

"We have a rich tradition of success here," said U of I Wheelchair Track and Field Coach Adam Bleakney.  " What I think this designation will do is enrich an already very successful training environment.  It will accentuate all of the positive qualities, and give us more opportunities to meet the needs of those student atheletes."

The U of I has played a role in the careers of many wheelchair athletes - including 2013 marathon ‘Grand Slam’ champion Tatyana McFadden, and Jean Driscoll, who’s won 12 Paralympic medals, and won the Boston Marathon 8 times.   

The U of I announcement was made at Friday's U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly in Chicago.