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Gary Van Der Wege and Gerard Moreno Qualify for London Paralympic Games

08/14/2011, 1:55am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Team USA ended the Paralympic qualification portion of the Wheelchair Pan American Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Saturday with two more athletes earning trips to the London Games.

Two members of previous Paralympic Teams earned berths on the 2012 Team as Gerard Moreno (Los Angeles, Calif.) qualified for his fourth team and 2004 Paralympian Gary Van Der Wege (Kyle, Texas) qualified for his second Games.

Competing in Category A epee, Van Der Wiege was the top seed in the event after the pools and earned a bye into the quarter-finals where he defeated Alex Souza (BRA), 15-12.

As the only U.S. athlete to qualify for the semifinals, Van Der Wege won his bout against Jorge Michiardi (ARG), 15-6.

In the finals, Van Der Wege had a close bout with Sandro Colasso (BRA), but he pulled out the win, 15-12, to qualify for the London Games.

After qualifying for the Games with his win in the Category A foil on Friday, Mario Rodriguez (Ventura, Calif.) was seeded fourth in the epee competition, but lost to Michiardi, 15-9, in the quarter-finals.

Dennis Aspy (Woodstock, Ga.) and Corbin Beu (Phoenix, Ariz.) both competed in the event as well, but each lost in the table of 16

Moreno finished the Category B foil pools with a third seed which put him on the same side of the table as Ryan Estep (Florence, Miss.) who won gold in epee on Friday.

After a quarter-final win over Luis Alarcon (ARG), 15-11, Moreno met Estep in the semifinals and won the bout, 15-12.

The win moved Moreno into the finals against U.S. teammate Joey Brinson (Brandon, Miss.)

With a fifth slot at the Games guaranteed for Team USA, Moreno defeated Brinson, 15-9, to qualify for the London Games and earn the second gold of the day for Team USA. Brinson earned the silver medal and Estep won the bronze.

Fifteen-year-old Cat Bouwkamp (Fishers, Ind.) earned her berth to the Games on Friday with a win in the Category A foil event, but the reigning National Champion returned on Saturday with the goal of earning a second Pan Am title.

Seeded second after the pools, Bouwkamp nearly missed qualifying for the gold medal bout when she trailed Sheila Mattik (BRA), 11-4, in the semifinals. Following teammate Sonya Perduta’s (Phoenix, Ariz.) loss to Mattik in the quarter-finals, Bouwkamp was the last remaining U.S. athlete in the competition and she was determined to have the chance to fence for gold.

Bouwkamp battled back to tie Mattik before winning the bout, 15-14.

In the final, Bouwkamp had her second gold medal bout of the weekend against Sylvie Morel (CAN) whom Bouwkamp defeated, 15-12, in the foil event.

This time, Morel held the bout close before earning the win, 6-4.

Sonia Fogal (Flowood, Miss.) also competed in the Category A epee event, but lost to Morel in the quarter-finals, 15-5.

After four events were cancelled earlier in the week (women’s Category B epee and foil and men’s Category A and B saber), only six slots for the Games were available and Team USA qualified athletes in five of those during the two-day individual competition that began on Friday.

The following five U.S. athletes qualified for London with gold medal wins this weekend:

  • Cat Bouwkamp (Fishers, Ind.), Category A foil
  • Ryan Estep (Florence, Miss.), Category B epee
  • Mario Rodriguez (Ventura, Calif.), Category A foil
  • Gerard Moreno (Los Angeles, Calif.), Category B foil
  • Gary Van Der Wege (Kyle, Texas), Category A epee

Each athlete will have the opportunity to compete in two events at the London Games.

Additional slots are still open for qualification at the Wheelchair World Championships in October as well as through the World Rankings List.

Tag(s): News  Catherine Bouwkamp  Joseph Brinson