Friday, July 6, 2012

Muffy Davis earns Paralympics berth in cycling

SV athlete returns to world stage

Express Staff Writer

Paralympic life has started all over again for Marianna "Muffy" Davis at age 39.

The Ann Arbor, Mich. native who grew up in Sun Valley has made a life out of picking herself up, dusting herself off and starting all over again.

Davis, mother of a 3-year-old, is headed to the 2012 Paralympic Games Aug. 29-Sept. 9 in London, England as one of 17 cycling athletes competing on behalf of U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

On July 3, U.S. Paralympics announced its full roster for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team. Handcyclist Davis is one of eight female members.

It will be the first Olympics on a bike for Davis, now a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah. She will compete in up to three handcycling events in London.

Her appearance will occur 10 years after Davis won silver medals in downhill, super giant slalom and giant slalom mono-skiing during the 2002 Winter Paralympics at Snowbasin, Utah. She also won a bronze in the 1998 Paralympics at Nagano, Japan.

In London, Davis will aim for her first Olympic gold medal in her latest athletic pursuit. Because of her competitive nature and strength, Davis has become one of the best U.S. handcyclers in her H2 class.

The U.S is sending three female handcyclers to the Paralympics—one in H1, one H2 and one H3. All use recumbent bikes. Their categories are based on the nature of their disabilities. Davis was paralyzed at the age of 16 in a skiing accident on Baldy.

Having taken up the sport three years ago to get into shape after the birth of her daughter Glenda, Davis won the H2 national championship 19.6-kilometer time trial by a healthy margin at the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Road Cycling National Championships June 21 in Augusta, Ga.

More than 110 athletes in 20 of the 22 Paralympic disability classes competed in the 12.2-mile time trials at the J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake in South Carolina, just over the border from Georgia. The event was the final one influencing selection of the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team.

Davis expects her family to attend the London Games, including husband Jeff Burley and daughter Glenda. One of her chief motivations will be to compete in front of her daughter, she has said.

A Wood River High School and 1995 Stanford University graduate, Davis became a perennial World Cup challenger for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team in the LW-10 category.

She was named to the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 2010 along with Sun Valley Resort owner Earl Holding. Ten years ago, Holding suggested and endorsed renaming the Seattle Ridge ski run Southern Comfort "Muffy's Medals," in honor of her Paralympic mono-skiing achievements.

Last September, Davis was a gold medalist in the team para-cycling relay during the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Road Championships in Denmark. She also won silver medals in H2 hand-cycle world events. She first made the U.S. team after winning three silver medals at the 2010 world finals and also taking gold in the 2010 U.S. women's time trial.

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