PITTSBURGH - Bethel Park native Trevor Barron,19, is just hitting his stride in racewalking.
He will be the lone U.S. representative in the 20K in London, but his path to the Olympics hasn't been easy.
Just days before the U.S. Trials in Eugene,
Ore., wildfires devoured neighborhoods around his training ground in Colorado and thick smoke filled the air.
He was forced to move his training indoors.
"My bike routes had been
burned, and the mountains were brown. You don't appreciate it until it's gone," he said of Colorado Springs.
Barron arrived in Oregon for the
trials and shattered the U.S. record, a record held by his coach and mentor, Tim Seaman.
Wildfires have forced Barron to move his Olympic training to Seaman's base in San Diego, where the air quality is better.
But Trevor is used to obstacles.
"I was a competitive swimmer until age 12, but I had epilepsy
, and after several seizures in the pool, I was forced to take a break from swimming," he said.
He moved from the pool to track, and was inspired by his older sister.
"She went to the Junior Olympics in Sacramento in
2001, and I got left home," Barron said.
That would be the last time. Barron used that as motivation, telling his family he also wanted to go to the Junior Olympics.
Barron explored his options in track and discovered he excelled in racewalking.
When Barron's seizure medicine stopped working, he decided it was time for brain surgery at Children's Hospital Pittsburgh. He was just 13.
Doctors pinpointed the area triggering the seizures and then removed that part from his brain. Since then he has been seizure-free and making history in U.S. racewalking.
"It's just a testament to his dedication, his focus, his ability. It's great," said
"It's been a great way to show that even if you have a disability, even if you have epilepsy, it doesn't mean that you need to resign your life at this point. You can still do more," Barron said.
Barron leaves for London today where he hopes to win the first U.S. medal in racewalking in 40 years.