Name: Jim Thweatt. From the United States. Class: Sonar, Hansa 303. Club: Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors
Jim Thwatt [pronounced Tweet!] has represented the United States on several occasions, including multiple Sonar Paralympic campaigns and at Para World Championships in the Hansa 303. He is a below-knee amputee and is a very active sailor with the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors Sailors in San Francisco, and lives a short distance away in West Sacramento, California. When not on the water, Jim is a physiotherapist, a role that has allowed him to work as a classifier and member of a medical team that determines if athletes are eligible to compete in Paralympic sports.
Jim says representing his country is incredibly special and believes that if parasailing is reinstated at the Games the opportunities for the next generation of parasailers will be enormous.
Why do you think Para Sailing is unique?
Parasailing is unique because it allows anyone, regardless of their disability, to participate in local, national and international races. It includes all types of disabilities. For example, we have people who can’t move their arms, legs, feet, and can steer a sailboat, managing both sails and steering with a simple joystick.
Looking back on your career, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?
Well, I was an alpine ski racer in the 1970s and 1980s and lived in Southern California. In skiing, I was the second fastest American downhill in 1980. And then in sailing, I was on the US Parasailing Team from 2008 to 2012, so I consider those to be my greatest accomplishments.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporter? Obviously, it will be my wife! It allows me to take off and do these events and support the sail as much as possible.
What is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength is probably my passion and understanding of sailing, as well as the adaptability of the sport thanks to my knowledge as a physiotherapist.
What would it mean to you if sailing were reinstated as a Paralympic sport?
Well, if Para Sailing is reinstated, I believe we will have a whole new generation of people who will have a new appreciation for the sport, thanks to the exposure Para Sailing events provide.
You have represented your country on several occasions. What does this mean to you?
Representing your country is quite special. I think each person who has this opportunity sees it in a different light. But for me, it’s very moving. Through sports, participants and athletes with disabilities develop a positive identity for themselves and change the perception of others.