A long career as one of the world’s top para-athletes has made Krige Schabort feel like each high he reaches now is a blessing.
With his recent string of success as a member of the USA Paralympic Triathlon team, Schabort has found a new event to conquer, and he’s getting plenty of blessed moments.
Schabort, who has called Northwest Georgia home for many years and now lives in Rome, found out last Wednesday he was nominated in this year’s ESPY Awards for best male athlete with a disability.
Since then, there’s been a local push on Facebook to encourage people to vote for him online at ESPYS.com/vote. Voting is open through July 15 at 8 p.m.
Presented by sports network ESPN, The ESPYS will be broadcast live that night on ABC, and Schabort said he plans to attend the Los Angeles event with his wife.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was almost like my breath was taken away for sure,” Schabort said about being nominated. “At this point in my career … I never expected something like this to happen again.”
The South African native, who turns 52 in September, was nominated in the same category in 2007 for his performances in the marathon but didn’t win.
“The last time I went it was amazing,” he said. “It feels like you’re a superstar.”
Schabort is a two-time Paralympic medalist in the wheelchair-class marathon and the reigning International Triathlon Union triathlon world champion. He has won two major triathlon events this year — the 2015 Yokohama ITU World Paratriathlon in Japan, and the 2015 Monterrey CAMTRI Triathlon American Championships in Mexico.
“I do not think that the citizens of Rome and Floyd County realize what a phenomenal and world-renowned athlete he is and that he lives here,” said Ann Hortman, Rome Sports Commission director. “He just has no limits.”
Hortman has known Schabort through organizing the annual Clocktower Classic handcycling series, which he helped found and promote along with the Cedartown 5K Wheelchair Race.
Tuesday night was the 15th edition of the Cedartown race, and Schabort was there — getting a warm-up in before heading to Atlanta on Saturday to defend his title in the men’s wheelchair division of the Peachtree Road Race.
He’ll head to Rio de Janeiro at the end of the month for a Paralympic Games test event on the same course the first Paralympic triathlons will use in 2016. Schabort is working to secure his spot on Team USA for next year’s games.
Eight years since he was first nominated for an ESPY, he’s returning with a new goal and new triumphs, and thankful for the feedback he’s received from the community.
“Winning an event is hard work and hard training,” Schabort said. “But winning an award is something special because you can group all the things together that you’ve been working on for a long time.”