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Army veteran from Lewiston earns invite to Paralympic training center in California

Gardner, a retired Army veteran, has had eyes on making the team for the past five years. She's currently ranked 5th in the world in shot put and 11th in discus.
Credit: Christy Gardner

LEWISTON, Maine — Lewiston resident Christy Gardner has been invited to train at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Gardner is hoping to be selected for the 2020 U.S.A. Track and Field Paralympic Team.

The center is an official U.S. Paralympic training center, where America's best track and field para-athletes prepare for their shot at going to Tokyo, Japan. 

The retired Army veteran, who is also an assistant captain on the U.S. Women's Sled Hockey Team, has had eyes on making the team for the past five years. She's currently ranked 5th in the world in shot put and 11th in the world in discus for her classification. 

Gardner will move to California for the training. She'll make the trip with her service dog Moxie, a golden retriever who has been by her side for 10 years. Gardner said Moxie has enabled her to live independently and thrive as a para-athlete after she recovered from an attack while overseas. As a result of the attack, Gardner suffered a traumatic brain injury and was left paralyzed below the knees.

Credit: Christy Gardner

Gardner opted to self-amputate both legs below the knee, undergoing surgeries in 2015 and 2016. She said living with prosthetic legs has increased her mobility and made her more independent.

She will now have about two months to prove herself to Team U.S.A. coaches and evaluators in order to earn a permanent spot at the center through the summer. 

Credit: Christy Gardner

The U.S. Paralympics Track and Field trials are scheduled for June 25-28 in Minneapolis, MN. The 2020 Paralympic Games begin Aug. 28 in Tokyo.

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