TAKING A STAB
A pioneering sportswoman who created space for disabled athletes in this state is working toward a milestone in a faraway place.
Durham fencer Mia Ives-Rublee Monday will nestle inside an airplane to start a journey to Budapest, Hungary, where she will compete with Team USA in the 2013 Wheelchair World Championships from Aug. 7-12.
That’s saying something, because Ives-Rublee was born 29 years ago to this day with osteogenesis imperfecta, known as brittle-bones disease.
“I’ve never been able to walk,” Ives-Rublee said. “I’ve always used a wheelchair.”
She used her particular seat to crash through barriers, becoming the first high school athlete in North Carolina to race with a wheelchair in the state championships. In 2003, Ives-Rublee wasn’t able to generate points for Greensboro’s Page High School, but she was laying considerable groundwork.
“There has been at least one wheelchair athlete in the state championships every year since 2010,” N.C. High School Athletic Association spokesman Rick Strunk said.
Ives-Rublee severely injured her left femur during an accident in 2009. The after effect caused her pain when she returned to wheelchair track, bringing an end to her time in the sport that she had been competing in both nationally and internationally since she was 11.
Ives-Rublee said she set multiple junior national records in track and field, adding that she established benchmarks in swimming, too.
After high school, Ives-Rublee went to the University of Illinois, earning four varsity letters in track and road racing.
Ives-Rublee was too competitive to go cold turkey with sports, so she picked up a foil, earning a spot with USA Fencing in just two years.
“For me, fencing provides a little more mental stimulation,” Ives-Rublee said. “It’s easier to be more present during it. It requires you to, sort of, guess or predict what your opponent is going to be doing.
“I feel like it’s more interactive. It’s very physical. I get bruises from it all the time.”
That Ives-Rublee fought through an injury on top of her disability in order to keep competing in sports says all that needs to be said about her, Bridge II Sports executive director Ashley Thomas said.
“The biggest struggle is the mental part of it,” Thomas said. “It’s huge to get through it. Not many people would do what she does.”
Bridge II Sports (www.bridge2sports.org) is a Durham-based nonprofit organization providing opportunities in athletics for physically challenged children and for adults such as Ives-Rublee.
“She battles her body daily,” Thomas said. “She does not let it stop her.”
When Ives-Rublee isn’t working in Carrboro as a vocational counselor for the state, she likely is somewhere voluntarily helping youngsters with disabilities tap their internal reservoirs of confidence.
Ives-Rublee said she misses track and field but is able to stay close to the sport by coaching with Bridge II Sports. Her goal is to keep fencing internationally and land a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Fencing Team for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro. She was a child when the 1996 Paralympics Games inspired her.
The cost of competition
Mia Ives-Rublee has reached her goal of getting selected to compete with USA Fencing in the 2013 Wheelchair World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Now she is trying to meet a monetary mark that will help get her there. Ives-Rublee is less than $500 away from hitting her target. More about that is at www.gofundme.com/wheelchairfencingchamp.