Stephen Binning set his sights on competing in the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Recent developments, however, have presented the possibility that he could be going next year to the 2012 Paralympic Games.

Binning, a junior at Desert Vista, was recently named as a U.S. Paralympics 2011 Track and Field High School All-American. It was the second time he has been named an All-American and he is using it for motivation. He has upped his workout regiment and weightlifting in an effort to qualify and compete with the U.S. team when they travel to London in August.

"My goal has always been 2016, but I've been told I'm really close to making 2012," he said.

Binning was born with spina bifida, a birth defect which affected his spinal development and caused him to lose the use of his legs. He uses a conventional wheelchair around campus, but competes in a light-weight racing chair.

He will compete in several events next summer that could qualify him for London. He said that the top seven or eight times can qualify an athlete for the Paralympics. At a recent national event, he set his personal record in the 100 meter and was the second American to cross the finish line and, as he remembers, "fourth or fifth," overall.

Binning, 16, competes with the Desert Vista track team and Arizona Disabled Sports (ADS). With DV, he mainly does the mile with a best time of 4:55, and with ADS he does the 100 meter, 200 meter and 400 meter.

"My mom kind of pushed me to join (ADS) and it's been really fun," he said.

Binning says he doesn't mind it and that it has opened up new doors for him. He has met and spoken with paralympic athletes and coaches through different events over the years.

"I've had some cool experiences," he said. "Most people that I talk to say I'm going good for my age."

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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