Oswego resident Joe Berenyi will live his dream this summer as he represents the U.S. on the 2012 Paralympic Cycling Team.
A construction accident in 1994 took Berenyi’s right arm and left kneecap. His wife, Jill Berenyi, said he had been racing about a year when the accident occurred. She said he tried riding again soon after the accident, but it wasn’t until about three years ago that he was back racing again.
Berenyi will represent Team USA in the following races: 3 km individual pursuit; 1 km time trial; team sprint; road time trial; and the road race. Berenyi said the road time trial is “you vs. the clock,” and he won this event at the World Cup. He won the individual pursuit at the national championships last fall in Los Angeles. Berenyi said he’s most excited for these two events.
In 2011, Berenyi qualified for the national team. Of the approximately 40 national team members, only 16 will compete for Team USA in London.
“This is a dream come true and I’m super-excited,” Berenyi said.
Berenyi found out he made the Paralympic Team on June 22. Since then, he’s been home approximately seven days, he said, since he's been traveling to compete and train.
Berenyi is most excited to experience the level of competition at the Paralympics.
“I expect it to be elevated to the next level. This is the most important competition ever,” he said.
He’s also excited to take in the atmosphere and live the concept of the Olympics.
“It will be neat to be a part of it and be on the other side,” he said.
Mike Farrell is an owner of Prairie Path Cycles and Berenyi’s sponsor.
Farrell noticed Berenyi at Athletes by Design (ABD) Cycle Club events and acknowledged that Berenyi would be a great representative of the club.
“He was very dedicated to cycling and very good. He was placing and winning training events (against competitors with no disability),” Farrell said.
ABD Cycle Club is sponsored by Prairie Path Cycles and organizes many races each year to challenge all ages and abilities.
Farrell said Berenyi is “very aggressive and trains diligently – riding more than 400 miles each week. It doesn’t surprise me he’s done well and we’re really excited for him.”
Jill Berenyi wasn’t surprised that her husband made the Paralympic team.
“He’s always been athletic and competitive…When he sets his mind on something, he does it and he rarely asks for help,” she said.
Berenyi is taking his own cheering section to London. His parents, brother, wife and three daughters ages 11, 8 and 7 will all cheer him on in London.
“It’s a great experience for our daughters. It’s a real learning experience to watch their dad compete at that level,” Jill Berenyi said.
ABD is encouraging donations to help cover the cost of Berenyi’s family traveling to London.
“Joe doesn’t think about being an inspiration, but everyone else sees it that way,” Jill said.