FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Zach Buhler is preparing to travel thousands of miles for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics.
In the meantime, the Huntington native can train a little closer to home.
"While everyone else is representing a different state, I’m representing good old Indiana, so I’m super pumped for it," Buhler said.
The U.S. Association of Blind Athletes announced the Team USA Men’s and Women’s Goalball rosters Wednesday, with players who are using the Turnstone facility in Fort Wayne to prepare for Tokyo.
"You need to compete with not only the best athletes in the world, but also the best training programs," said women's coach Jake Czechowski.
Czechowski says that program is at Turnstone.
He says having one central place to train allows the team to learn each other’s tendencies and get on the same page, which is especially important in a sport played blindfolded.
"The opportunity to train full time with your teammates and to get that cohesion and that bond and those minutes on the court has been invaluable to our progress as a team," Czechowski said.
The Turnstone Center updated its training site marks Wednesday morning, reflecting the inclusion of the Paralympics in the Olympic Committee.
The players and coaches want to show they’re more than just a feel-good story. They’re athletes, with big goals.
"We’re working hard, definitely harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, putting a lot a lot of hours just honing our craft and really just trying to gel as a team and just beat these other countries and hopefully bring home a gold," Buhler said.
The Paralympics are scheduled to begin in August. Both teams have high hopes after earning medals at the 2016 games.
Nine of the twelve athletes on Team USA earned a medal in the Rio games.
Huntington’s Buhler will be among those making his Paralympic debut.