Editor’s Note: Before the Paralympic Games open on September 7, we’ll be introducing you to the U.S. Paralympic athletes who will be competing in visual impairment categories in Rio de Janeiro through a series entitled “Rio-Bound”. Follow along on our website and social media with #riobound. Though the torch was extinguished at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony on Sunday, August 21, we’re counting down the days until it is re-lit for the Paralympic Games! A full schedule of events can be found at www.rio2016.com. You can tune into NBC and NBCSN (broadcast schedule here) or stream Games coverage live online at www.paralympic.org or https://www.dailymotion.com/Paralympics.
Birthdate: February 5, 1994
Hometown: Peachtree City, Ga.
High School: Lighthouse High School
College: University of Georgia
Motto: “Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs; the future can be better than the present and I have the power to make it so.”
2015 ParaPan American Games – silver
2014 IBSA World Goalball Championships – gold
2013 Parapan American Games – gold
2012 Paralympic Games – 6th
Born with aniridia and nystagmus, Amanda’s parents, Winfred and Elizabeth Dennis, encouraged to participate in adaptive sport. At 7 years old, Amanda attended a Sports Education Camp hosted by Blaze Sports and learned about goalball. She instantly fell in love with the sport. When she’s not improving her goalball game, Amanda enjoys anything outdoors, reading books, and any type of sport.
We recently caught up with Amanda to find out what she’s looking forward to in Rio and how she’s preparing.
USABA: What are you most looking forward to about the Brazilian culture?
AD: I don’t really know too much about the culture in Brazil but I’m excited to try some of their food!
USABA: What are you most looking forward to in Rio?
AD: I’m looking forward to competing. After all, that’s why we’re down there – to show everyone what we’re made of. We’ve been working toward getting on the podium, and it’ll be awesome to show everyone who we are and what we’re capable of.
USABA: How are you preparing for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games?
AD: I spent the summer in Portland, Oregon, playing goalball daily. I improved my skills and stayed in shape through strength and conditioning.
USABA: What is a typical day of training like for you?
AD: We usually have an hour to an hour-and-a-half of goalball-related practice in the morning where we’ll work on things like accuracy, penalties, different throws and defense. In the afternoon we’ll have a strength and conditioning workout where we’ll work on speed with intervals and an actual strength workout. I’ll follow this training program during the week and on Saturdays, practice goalball for 7 hours. Sundays are for recovery and rest.
USABA: Who do you thank for helping you get to this point in your athletic career?
AD: There are a lot of people I thank for getting me to this point in my career but none more than both of my parents. My parents are a huge reason I am who I am today. When I was little, they drove me an hour to practice in Atlanta, simply because I enjoyed playing goalball. They have always supported me both financially and psychologically, offering words of wisdom and verbal support. They also helped build a non-profit organization, Georgia Association of Blind Athletes that has helped multiple goalball athletes over the years. They have been the most involved with helping me grow as an athlete, whether it was through coaching, or the mental hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. They are the people I thank the most.
Amanda takes the court with the U.S. Women’s Goalball Team on September 8 against host country Brazil. The full tournament schedule is available here. Follow Team USA’s success on social media and on www.usaba.org.