MAMOU - A Mamou athlete, born with spina bifida, now has his own racing wheelchair as he pursues one being a member of the U.S. Paralympics Team.
In the past, he had been competing with a loaner racing chair.
Fourteen-year-old Kristian Bellard has always been interested in sports. His family is very sports-oriented, and sports is very important to him. He tried baseball and basketball but was unable to perform like he hoped,
Three years ago, Games Uniting Mind and Body (GUMBO) came into his life.
GUMBO is a state-wide sports program designed specifically for students with physical or visual disabilities.
Presently, GUMBO offers four regional meets throughout the state and one state track and field competition.
When Bellard first began competing, he chose to perform in both track and field events as an ambulatory athlete. He said he quickly realized he was not going to be very competitive in this classification.
GUMBO provides a loaner racing wheelchair program which loans racing wheelchairs to qualified athletes for one year. Bellard caught on to the racing wheelchair and wanted one of his own.
This year was his first year to be supported by Challenged Athletes Foundation, and he received funding for his own personal racing wheelchair.
Last year, Bellard had a goal to become a member of the state team and become a member of Louisiana Mudbug.
He has achieved that goal, and this has led to his achievement of another goal - to compete outside of the State of Louisiana.
Bellard competed in the Oklahoma Endeavor Games in Edmond, Okla., and SWAA Last Chance Meet in Dallas, Texas. He also qualified to go to a Junior National Competition which was held in Chicago this past summer.
He is looking forward to competing in Edmond, Okla.; Tampa, Fla.; Dallas, Texas and Saginaw, Mich. next summer.
As he moves forward, Bellard is working on achieving his long-term goal of one day becoming a member of the U.S. Paralympics Team. He knows he has a long way to go, but he is very determined.
At the State Invitational GUMBO meet, Bellard set four records for his classification this year. His very first race in his personal wheelchair was the 800 meter with a time of 2:40, with standard being five minutes.
Within the state he competes in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter and 800 meter. He also competes in shot put and discus.
When he goes out of state to compete he competes in all of the above plus the javelin. Next summer he hopes to start with archery.
He trains regularly and plans on becoming a member of Pine Prairie High School’s track team this school year. Louisiana High School Athletic Association has a wheelchair division for outdoor track and field.
In fact, the athletes in wheelchairs can actually acquire points for their team if they meet the standards. He is really looking forward to being a part of his high school team.
A freshman at Pine Prairie High School, Bellard is the son of Kevin and Dawn Renee Belllard. The family resides in the Mamou area. He has an older sister, Katelyn; a younger brother, Kyron; and a younger sister, Daisy. He is the grandson of Tina Doucet of Ville Platte and the late Robert George, Jr. He is also the grandson of Abigail Fontenot of Mamou, who is his coach.