Blaze Foster: "I cannot wait; I've been preparing for this for three years."
By Anne Cloonan
Blaze Foster of Monroeville will compete in the 2013 World Dwarf Games on the Michigan State University Campus in August.
Mr. Foster, 23, who was born with dwarfism, graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in sports management from Slippery Rock University.
He was selected to represent TEAM USA and the Dwarf Athletic Association of America in the World Games because of his performance in the DAAA National Games for dwarf athletes in three of the past four years. He will compete in track and field and swimming events.
Mr. Foster competed in the DAAA National Games in Manhattan in 2009, in Nashville in 2010 and in Dallas in 2012.
From Aug. 3 through 10, he will compete with athletes from 20 countries, representing the United States in basketball, swimming and track and field at Michigan State.
"I cannot wait, I've been preparing for this for three years," he said.
Mr. Foster will run the 4-by-100 relay and swim in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle events.
To get in shape, he said he has been jogging four days a week, playing basketball four days a week, swimming three days a week and lifting weights.
"I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. I'll find out," he said.
The games will provide him with a rare opportunity to compete at sports against people his own height, he said.
Growing up, he constantly played neighborhood basketball and backyard football against much bigger friends.
Two neighbors he played basketball with, Cameron Saddler and Corey Brown, went on to play collegiate football, Mr. Saddler for the University of Pittsburgh for five years as a wide receiver, and Mr. Brown as a defensive back at Ohio State, where he is a senior.
In childhood, friends Aaron Richardson and Antonio Daye always asked Mr. Foster to be on their teams for neighborhood pickup games.
"They pushed me to the limit every time and it made me a better athlete and a better person," Mr. Foster said.
Another friend, Shawn Vrcic, who Mr. Foster said has been like a second brother to him, also encouraged him.
At around age 9, Mr. Foster swam for the Garden City Dolphins Swim Team and he later wrestled for a few years at Gateway High School, where he graduated in 2008.
In August, his mother, Deborah Duncan Foster, and eight of his friends will accompany him to the World Games.
The World Dwarf Games, a multisport competition, is expected to be the largest sporting event in history for dwarf athletes, according to a press release from Mark Cekanor of Team USA. Mr. Cekanor is also DAAA board vice president.
More than 400 athletes, including 209 from the United States, will compete in 13 Olympic-style sports, including archery; badminton; basketball; boccia; floor hockey; kurling, a form of curling; powerlifting; shooting; soccer; swimming; table tennis; track and field; and volleyball.