Heavy metal suits local chair athletes
Courtesy of Karen Gialle, Oro Valley's David Mackey struck silver and gold at The National Veterans' Wheelchair Games, in Omaha.

As the couch-bounds’ television memories of Beijing begin to fade, Arizona’s wheelchair athletes remain pumped from the 49 total medals they brought back from last month’s 28th National Veterans’ Wheelchair Games in Omaha.

Tucson’s delegation won 31 of those medals — 11 of which were gold, according to head coach and Southern Arizona VA Hospital spinal clinic nurse Karen Gialle.

“We went, we saw, we conquered,” Gialle said.

Oro Valley athlete Steve Hymer rolled a 318 series during his bowling event — earning him a bronze medal, while he was narrowly nudged from the table tennis finals by an Iowa state champ.

“I was very pleased with (the competition),” Hymers said. “Bowling is my favorite sport.”

Nearly 600 contestants competed in the games, yet few approached the three-medal total Oro Valley’s David Mackey racked up.

“I got lucky,” Mackey said. “Somewhere out there the gods were happy with me or something.”

Mackey struck gold in the 4x200-meter chair relay. He won a pair of silvers in the power slalom chair event and in the motor rally course — an event that combined scavenger hunt and poker run elements at the Omaha Zoo.

Arizona’s medal count comprised 22 gold, 17 silver and 10 bronze medals. And not surprisingly, the four days of sweat and sportsmanship wore out Mackey and his wife, upon their return home.

“All we wanted to do was sit back and relax,” Mackey said.

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